In situations where I have to make and keep friends, I have masked. When I'm my most successful (at masking), people will tolerate me. Yet on days if I am unsuccessful (at masking), they will mostly likely dislike me and I therefore lose connection and even respect. All my life, I have wanted to seem likable. So, I have masked.
It has offended me when someone in my sphere of family said: "poor men, they have more disabilities, like autism" which even if they statistically have more autism, completely undermines autistic female suffering and how we're undiagnosed.
If I say the wrong thing, make the wrong facial expression, it's always: "oh vela doesn't like me." snidely whispered behind my back by whiny girls. It never takes into account the autistic woman as someone who is attempting to be 'normal' and 'likable' at a cost. Regardless of being male or female, neurotypical social nasty games always come down to ostracising the autistic person because they struggle to keep up. Its always about what you wear, how you talk, how nicely you compliment others.
"Love your hair!"
"Oh you're looking so good today!"
"That's such an amazing drawing!"
I struggle to compliment people unless I really mean it, something in my brain doesn't align with schmoozing up to others. This isn't because I mean to be mean! It's because something about my genetics means I just...can't! Of course, I am impressed by people's art, I just don't like commenting on their tattoos and dyed hair, usually because I'm not impressed.
Masking comes into play with how you present yourself to others. As far as what you wear, its how people determine your competence in some ways. When I wear a slightly wrinkly shirt to work, I have no doubt people consider me as disheveled, which may indicate I am maybe lacking in other areas; such a self hygiene, focus, and even extend to determine my quality of work. Is it too much of a stretch to think that? I don't think so! I think it makes sense. Everyone wants to look their best, not have a grown-out mullet of a haircut (erhem, like I totally don't have), and people make assumptions. Of course, the biggest thing about this is...
...men get away with wearing a disheveled plaid shirt. Women don't. Not trying to alienate male readers but its true. I feel like a outcast some days, but feel like a witch on my best days. I love myself for the baggy plaid shirts and unshaven legs hidden behind jeans.(Tmi? but hey I did shave them yesterday.)
Masking means making extra effort to smile otherwise I may appear cold. Masking means making sure I give compliments and let people know something is 'awesome' or 'good work' even if I may sound off in this, because it's hard for me to force. For me, masking even means what you chose to wear fashionable outfits in order to be 'less autistic'. Because I love to slide into some daggy jeans and plaid shirt, but sometimes even my dad will remark on my pile of ironed plaid shirts, concerned I'm wearing them too much.
Being authentic while autistic means carving a special space where you can be yourself. Blogging and writing in general is definitely that. Although I still may be able to do drawings like the ones below, its far and few between that I actually feel they are of any quality. I also try to (gratitude) journal which is just more writing I guess. I did Feng Shui and rearranged my craft room space so now it's extra spacious, and my drawing space is much lovelier and tidier than before.
This cost of masking has been so ingrained in me its hard to separate what is authentic me from some imitation trying not to offend people. I don't have these intensely rude thoughts, my issue is more that I'm strange and intense. Being that means I just will weird people out for openly talking about true experiences that are very disturbing for most, predominately psychosis. I always was intense. Always a bit unhinged, but I had a pride. Oh, I think my pride used to be big. Pride was mostly art and those skills however, so without it, I'm struggling with scooping up even a scrap of pride now. Anyways, I want to make new friends and be my openly weird self, forge connections that matter, but then again they'll read this and realise I'm insecure about that process, and people get creeped out. This is why I'm tagging this 'overthinking'. I know I'm lovable, but rebuilding myself post three psychoses has been one wild ride. I'm hoping to publish an autism and bipolar essay in a mental health themed publication if I can whip it into shape in a few days, but I won't count my chickens before they've hatched.
Over and out.