First off, you have to accept that you’re different. Because you are, my sweets. The first thing I hear from people diagnosed in adulthood is how much of an overwhelming relief it all was. They didn’t have to keep up anymore. They looked at the milestones, looked at themselves, and they realized it didn’t add up.
As a person with Asperger’s, you’re free of that pressure. You’ve got reason to be. Of course, you want to do the best you can. We all do. But since you haven’t quite learned all the stuff other people have by your age, you don’t have to be on a career track. You don’t have to be married by 30. No one does, but you’ve got a reason that will shut them all down.
Neurotypicals should be jealous.
Find your interests. We’ve got that going for us, too. I don’t know anybody with Asperger’s who can’t reach basic levels of fulfillment nerding out on the computer. We’re thinkers. We can be happy in our own company. I know I bitch and moan about friends on here all the time, but I think if there were a zombie apocalypse and I was the only one left standing, in a sealed building with unlimited books and food, I could eventually reach satisfaction.
Comparing ourselves to other people is the problem.
I’ve even heard a theory that autism is evolution slowly perfecting itself. That, once the kinks work out, you’ll have an army of tech-savvy people who need no one. Now I’m not sure if that’s true. But it definitely makes me feel better about myself.
Find your tribe. Members will probably be other aspies. Either that or people who have something else that makes it hard to get by, like bipolar or prosthetic legs. Having something in common, trite but true, is a good way to befriend NTs. Occasionally you’ll find some person with above-average social skills who wants to show you the ropes. This person needs to be needed. You can develop that friendship, but be wary.
If you do something awkward, let it go. Like if you’re zoned out in a crowded supermarket and you let go of your wagon and it rolls down the aisle and hits some old lady in the foot. I know it sounds funny, but that’s the kind of thing we actually do. And we’re hella ashamed of it. Just try to be aware of people’s space. What you say. Boundaries. But if you make a mistake, just let it go.
This is always going to set you apart, and that’s something we need to accept. But honestly, the #1 thing that makes people like you is a good attitude. It really is. I’m not saying you’ll be one of the cool kids. But some people, I promise, will want to be around you if you’re good to them. Accept those people. Appreciate them.
The worst thing about Asperger’s is the bitterness. It’s rough when we’re kids. Those memories stick. But no adult is interested in persecuting you. I’ve seen so many of us preemptively shut down friends, romantic partners, and jobs because we assumed they weren’t interested. A (cute) girl told me she was nuts about a guy with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was turned on by his smarts. Then he started talking trash about women from those sites for guys who don’t get laid, and she didn’t want to talk to him anymore. Society is hard enough on us without us making enemies out of ourselves.
I am not an emotionally stable aspie you guys. I’m actually going through a real rough patch right now. But I know some. And they’re happy. Some are doing autism advocacy, because we’re the best people for that. Another has read over 50 books so far this year. I saw him sitting in a bar drinking (awkwardly) through a straw, flipping through his book.
“We can leave if you’re not having fun,” I told him.
“Everyone tells me that,” he said. “But I am having fun.”
We might not have the same kind of fun as other people. But that’s okay. We don’t actually know what happiness is like in someone else’s head anyway. So many of us are driven by two things:
Don’t be. There’s no malevolent gnome up there doling out cool points. Any system of belief will tell you that a code of honor is more important than cool. We are all going to die. It’s the only equalizer on Earth. No one is cool in the end, so why waste an iota of your time worrying about it?
The one thing in this world you can control is your thoughts. And you can exercise that right as much as anyone else. As for the other stuff, look around you? How many objectionable people do you see having friends? Most of them. Develop your interests, hone your skills, and make your standards achievable. You are smart, rational, and ridiculously self-possessed. In fact you’re freer than most people.
And don’t ever compare yourself to others.
*Image from crazycoolgadgets.com