Posted in Autistic Identity, Career Change, Passing as Neurotypical

Still Fighting

I had a dream night before last where I went back to teaching online.   But I can’t do that anymore because teaching takes too much out of me and I can’t get a “good teaching job” anyway.  I spent the whole way to work fretting for two reasons: one, that dream seemed to have really gotten to me, and two, my knee hurts quite a bit.  The knee is a bit of overwork mixed with arthritis.  I’ve had bad knees since I was a kid and have one leg shorter than the other so weird leg things aren’t unusual, but damn, it hurts to drive right now (even though it’s my resting leg, not driving leg; it’s the sitting in one position too long thing.  Whatever the reason for the pain part, the combination of events was so freaking hard.

As a child of the 80’s (born in 1975…Gen X all the way!), I really believed in all the crap they taught us about women being able to do anything and how if we followed our dreams, everything would be GREAT!  But my town was run by teachers in a town with no educational competition.  No doubt they believed that we could, in fact, follow our dreams if we just got educated enough (etc.) and followed the prescribed path to college.  They never did teach me when to get off the path of education, but regardless, with as much education as I have, I should be freaking set right now, right?

But I’m not.

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Posted in Passing as Neurotypical, Social Rules

Looking Out For Number One: Even Nice Guys Do It

I have blogged before about watching old Survivor episodes and finding it interesting to learn about human nature within the context of a game. I strongly believe in the power of games to teach Autistics about social skills. While we’re doing something (not merely socializing), we can also look around and listen to other people and learn what they’re like in a context that makes some degree of sense to us. In watching Survivor, I think I’m finally starting to understand neurotypicals better. One big lesson is that neurotypicals always put themselves first.

The Central neurotypical Rule: I Am Number One

I suspect this should be obvious because when I say it, it seems so, but really, it hasn’t been that clear to me. Part of the problem, I think, is that I had internalized a lot of social rules about sharing and what is expected of me as a woman (girls are nice). But when I watch Survivor, I see being nice as a game. Strong game players will use niceness as a way to manipulate people, but they are always thinking about what they need.

I watched a lot of this play out in my principalship: the priests and pastors would always be thinking of their schools first. If one of the rest of us had it harder, and they had it easier, that was a-okay. I felt alone in my desire to grow the pool of students for all of us so that we all could win because I really didn’t believe in a zero-sum game. Meanwhile, everyone else was playing a different game: we won’t hurt you, and we might help you, but if and only if your helping yourself can in no way (even tangentially) impact us. Whenever I tried to grow the pool for all of us, it was attacked as possibly hurting the other schools.

Had I learned this lesson sooner, I would have done things differently. I would have recognized that, because we were in crisis, we needed to focus on ourselves first and exclusively. We might have still closed, but I would have gone farther and had a better chance at staying open had I focused on saving us any way possible including directly competing with the other schools.

And yes, that would involve breaking the rules I learned about how to get along with other people. That would have been directly in conflict with the rules I learned from the Catholic church, but when I observed priests breaking these very rules themselves, I realized they weren’t real rules.

Everyone else puts themselves first.

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