In April of 2016 I attended my very first Aspie meet.
I believe there is no need for an explanation on what that is, however it has been pointed out to me that what may seem easily understandable to me may not be easily understood by others so…
In April of last year, I attended a group ‘hangout’ for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The month’s hangout was to be held at Abington Park Cafe, between 1pm to 3pm.
The days leading up to the meet were, looking back, exhausting. My mind could barely keep in what was then the present, all thoughts were on the future and the trajectory my life would follow.
In my head this group was going to be the key to changing my life, I had found myself full of hope and excitement despite simultaneously experiencing deep-rooted anxiety. I am me after all.
Thus now the pleasant introductory paragraph or two are over, let’s get into the real stuff. When I began this journey of documenting this life as a Aspie, I promised to be honest. A good writer exposes all, particularly the ugly and with hindsight my fears could be viewed as a few things ugly to the outsider’s perspective…including arrogant.
I have shared previously how I am a notoriously, and frustratingly, talented actress. Looking and acting the part of a NT. If there were a course in the act, I’d be an A student. Now I come to think of it, I think there are classes for that… Though I’m confident they aren’t called Acting Normal, no I imagine they are disguised under some name along the lines of ‘Everyday Social Skills’.
Since the age of 16 the incredible amount of psychologists, psychiatrists, tutors, people who told me ‘You aren’t like the others Lucy’ would astound you. ‘Like the others?’ What does that mean? What was it even supposed to mean? Isn’t every single person different to the other in how they experience life on the Autistic Spectrum? I had never asked these questions. Why hadn’t I asked these questions?
Here we return to the point, the incredibly invasive thoughts taking over my excitement and hope regarding this Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome meeting.
“What if I’m the only one there who appears to be neurotypical?”
In English? Put bluntly?
“What if I’m the only one who looks ‘normal’?”
Looking back it was a horrendously arrogant worry to have yet there it was. Constant and invasive.
I had hopes for this group and they all began with the people in it. I was looking for my people. People who would know me, no not know me…get me, get me and how I’m wired. I wanted to be the same for them. Looking back, my thoughts should have only been focused on those good possibilities.
My vanity was driving me though, yes I wanted to meet and find my people… but I wanted them to be as good as disguising themselves as I am. After all, it was a possibility my own disguise would be found out if I were with who I called my people, and they were clearly not NT.
‘The surest cure for vanity is loneliness’ I once read. Apparently not so in my case.
To be fair, my second biggest cause of anxiety regarding the whole subject was the fear of being the most different and inexperienced out in the world and in life.
Yes, on the outside during a short conversation here and there I can fool you into believing I’m like any other 26 year old woman. Once you know me however, it’s painfully obvious I’m not. It’s only really been four years I’ve been out in this world. From 15 to 22 I was in my room. I have never had any REAL tests to coping in neurotypical circumstances. I have never had a job interview never mind a job. I have never finished education in a official sense. Never caught the bus alone. I don’t go to the till to pay at shops, I get others to do it for me including last week my 7 year old niece. My body language? 95% of the time I am really good at preventing tell tale hand and arm movements. I can catch and stop myself rocking the second I begin however my eye contact is still to be desired. I can’t look anyone other than my family and possibly two friends in the eye, it’s my biggest giveaway. For god’s sake I was taking my mother to the hangout!
I suppose the fear was all tied up in, ‘What if I’m the outsider in this group of outsiders?’
All I could do was go, and find out.