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When You’ve Got A Risk-Taking Temperament

I wonder if there’s ever going to be a place for people like me. And I’m not talking about autistic people. There are plenty of places for us sperg lords and ladies to congregate. But there are plenty of other people who don’t fit into mainstream society for reasons that aren’t considered pathological, but are probably just as innate.

The average human life trajectory goes something like this:

1.) Go to college
2.) Try new things for a couple of years
3.) Start your career
4.) Get married
5.) Have kids
6.) Plateau in your career
7.) Your kids leave home
8.) Retire
9.) Fuck around in a nursing home
10.) Die

Most people accept this sooner or later. But it’s still alien to me. And I’m pretty sure it would be even if I were quote-unquote “normal.” We all know people like that, who aren’t inclined towards either a career or a family and who usually have an inexplicable attraction to the darker side of life.

In old movies they were the drifters: those charming James Dean tramps who’d jump off the side of a train to invade a suburb & steal somebody’s wife. The women were some hard-living broads. Real-life 2016 isn’t much different. These are still the guys who’ll date you so they can move into your house and the women who’ll just keep on letting them. Both parties have drug problems and sex problems and they lie around all day fighting with each other and never grow up.

It’s not always like that though. Being a rebel can be a real intellectual perk. A lot of adult nonconformists start businesses. I’ve had the pleasure of working for a few of them. Trust me, though: there’s a good reason so many small-business owners have a reputation for being difficult. They’ll do anything to not have to work for somebody else. My friends lived on the edge. They were always running out of money. They never ran out of lovers though, even well into middle age. Their businesses didn’t last very long and neither did their relationships.

“Free spirit” is the politically correct way of looking at this type of person. But I think a more accurate explanation is that some of us just have to take risks at all times or else we’ll die inside. We need people like that in society to move us forward. Who else would start protests? Who else would have done the Oregon Trail? Like with all bell curve extremes there’s people at the top who’ve played their hand well and others who just piss around at the bottom.

Polite society shuns all but the most successful or promising renegades. Which makes sense unfortunately. It’s sad too, because let’s face it, well-adjusted citizens don’t have a lot of interesting stories. But I also wonder how much control we really have over the way we are. Stability doesn’t make people happy. But some people find fulfillment in it. I don’t. Most of my family members didn’t. My friends Vala and Kenny and Quinn didn’t either. I felt more natural around them than I did around my normcore friends. And if I want to join a whole slew of people in New York who are like us, I know exactly where to find them.

I never managed to go all out. I know that sounds like a First World problem, but it’s deeper than you think. When I (constantly) bitch that being on the spectrum is keeping me from self-actualization this is usually what I mean. It sucks knowing that you’re meant to be a certain way and you can’t do it because of the way your brain works. Don’t get me wrong: I think I’ve still had a more interesting life than the average person. But I didn’t have the social skills to run a business, which I had a legit opportunity to do. I never became a real cutting-edge sexual renegade either. I was just the school slut. If I were neurotypical my life would have been a lot more exciting and dangerous. Would I be this self-aware? No. But I would have been happier.

Right now I’m trying to figure out how to use these risk-taking urges in a constructive way. Like channeling them into my writing. I’m trying to be mature: to find fulfillment in close friendships and a wholesome relationship instead of always looking for more. But I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep all that up in the long run.

When You’ve Got A Risk-Taking Temperament

Gwendolyn Kansen

Gwen Kansen is a mental health writer in New York. She likes food, karaoke, and smart-but-campy books & TV. She's hoping to capture a little sliver of life on here that might not be the first thing you'd see.

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APA Reference
Kansen, G. (2016). When You’ve Got A Risk-Taking Temperament. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Oct 2016
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