First things first, I suppose a little introduction is in order. They usually make me uncomfortable but since we don’t have to guess who is going to go first this should be a little easier. Besides, there is nothing in this world I know more about than myself, the hard part will be keeping this short and sweet. I am 30 years old, and I just discovered a few weeks ago that I have Asperger's Syndrome. In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t change anything, I’m still exactly the same person I was before I figured out why I am so different, and yet at the microscopic level at which I examine myself it’s monumental. This has given me something I have searched my whole life for, perspective. I have found my voice. I hope to help others find theirs. Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Self Esteem

I often come across as very negative about myself. Perhaps not here where I make an effort to express that I have talents, but more so when it comes to verbal communication. I’ve been told by outsiders that some work on my self esteem would do me wonders. It makes me snicker, if they knew anything about me they would know that low self esteem is not something I suffer from. I have a tendency to talk more about the things I am not good at than the things I excel at, but there is a simple reason for this and it has nothing to do with the way I feel about myself.

The things I am good at I am extremely good at. I do nothing by halves, and if I am not competent at an activity I simply won’t do it. Being a perfectionist this leads to a high level of expertise about the things I know, and an almost complete lack of knowledge about the things I don’t. For some reason this bothers people to the point where I am either a narcissist for talking about my strengths, or have self esteem problems for addressing my weaknesses. The only way I can see around this would be to discuss both in one conversation but since they tend to involve totally separate topics this rarely makes sense in the context of conversation.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why being aware of my weaknesses is a bad thing, or even discussing them with other people, when it leads to a further understanding of myself and that is what I am after in the long run. I have no idea why acknowledging the things I am good at makes me egotistical when those are the things by which I stand to offer the most to the world. I don’t understand why it can’t just be accepted for truth that it is. No hidden meaning, no search for a pat on the back, just me knowing what I’m good at.


Yesterday my Doctor asked me what I thought getting diagnosed with AS would change about my life. It was an excellent question and it has provoked a lot of thought, because the answer in a nutshell is nothing and everything.

I am aware that when it comes to society as a whole this isn’t going to change things. Knowing why I feel the way I do in social settings doesn’t make it any easier to go out and experience them. The average person isn’t going to go out and do a lot of research about Aspergers, looking for a way to interact with me on my level. Things will continue on as they always have and there will always be misunderstanding in my life. I’m ok with that; I don’t have a lot in common with the vast majority of people and I can see no point in spending my life trying to explain myself to them. Let them think what they want, I am content.

Where this will make a difference is in my one on one interactions with the people whose opinions I do care about, and here it will make all the difference in the world. Just knowing that there is a reason for the way I am has already made a huge impact on my life. I still feel like I live in a parallel universe, but I no longer feel alone here. I feel as though I have found a way to reach across the gap and occasionally pull someone in with me, to see it my way, to listen to what I have to say and view the world from a different perspective. It’s to finally be able to put words to the things I have thought about for so long and not feel like I will be ridiculed and laughed at for feeling the way I do.

Its easy to see where AS has colored my life through the past, and I have been doing far too much thinking about it these last few weeks. Its odd because I have never had a problem with dwelling in the past but this last little while I have been letting it drag me down. Its time to get back to the moment, and right here, right now, things are pretty damn good. I have a boyfriend who is open minded and understanding, a best friend who totally gets where I’m coming from, and a daughter who is a joy to be around at 12 years old. My needs are few and they are all taken care of. I have plenty of time alone to think and do the things I feel the need to do. It took me 30 years but I have reached a place in my life where I am completely content, even the rough patches are no bumpier than anyone else’s. My life isn’t for everyone, or even the vast majority, but then their lives aren’t for me either.

Being diagnosed is providing me with a different perspective, showing me that it’s unrealistic to compare my life to theirs and hope to come to any viable conclusion of good or bad. If nothing else, it’s allowing me to look at things in a new light and see that there is nothing wrong with being exactly who I am.