gormster wrote:I'm not sure this is social anxiety. At least, from what I've heard, people suffering from Aspergers feel like they have to do this in order to appear "normal", because they can't read the social cues everyone else sees. I'm pretty sure social anxiety is the feeling that everyone secretly hates you and is only hanging out with you out of some kind of obligation.
I am normal, I am a perfectly normal cat.
At times I've tried to fit in with humans, but I'm ok dealing with them on my terms.
AS and social anxiety are often present together, not always.
Edit: I don't suffer from AS, I used to suffer from thinking I had to deal with other people on their terms, then I decided that was lame, and I didn't have to do it anymore unless I felt like it.
This post is full of win, and good advice for everybody whether or not you have any kind of 'disorder'.
I am not an extrovert by any means. I prefer to be alone most of the time, have all kinds of strange thoughts and preferences and ways of looking at the world and rarely meet anyone who thinks about things even vaguely the same way as I do, and so rarely feel "connected" to anyone else's way of living. Let me put it this way: I'm a long-haired, pansexual, pangendered, libertarian socialist, physicalist phenomenalist, with opinions on things like "time is an entropic anisotropy in the phase-space of possible worlds", who designs the tectonic history of fictional planets just for the sake of verisimilitude for fun, who goes to work barefooted and dressed like a pirate every day. I am the last person you would expect to be some kind of social butterfly, and I really don't think of myself as one at all. But in recent years people -- friends, girlfriends, coworkers, employers -- keep confusing me for one, being amazed at my "people skills", and I'm pretty sure that a big reason for that is the confidence I have developed in just being who I am, plus the politeness to communicate with them in their language despite that difference.
It used to be that all different kinds of subcultures considered me a weird one of themselves, and that got me some strange looks and comments for the longest time, everyone wondering why I didn't follow their their crowd properly (and other crowds wondering the same thing). But now, I have become so detached from any kind of social group, wandered so far down my own path, that no matter what setting I'm in I am very clearly an outsider. But, at the same time, I'm polite and mindful of each social setting's conventions, and if those are conventions I'm not willing to deal with, I can always just walk away. When you don't need to fit in, you have the power of rejection, not them. I make it clear now that I am not one of you, and that's fine, you shouldn't expect me to be you, I am what I am (and confidence is attractive) -- but that I am willing to speak in your language and make bridging the difference between us my burden and not yours (and that politeness is also attractive).
I think the effect that comes off is like a literal foreigner from another country in their lands, putting in a sincere effort to get along with the natives: instead of "why don't you conform like everyone else", it's "wow you speak our language so well". When the expectation is total difference, the commonalities stand out and the remaining differences can easily be overlooked; whereas if the expectation is total conformity, and difference stands out and the remaining commonalities are overlooked. Perhaps even more fitting than a foreigner would be a literal alien -- even better, a time-travelling humanoid alien passingly familiar with Earth culture, detached from any one place or time but looking enough like the locals and sharing enough common points of reference to at least converse with them. (I think this is one of the reasons I love The Doctor so much). I think it's something like an uncanny valley -- something very much like you but subtly different seems wrong, while something clearly not like you but with broad abstract similarities seems like a neat reflection of yourself.
Another way I like to think of it is like getting along with animals (by which I mean "non-humans" here) -- which is why I love your "I am a perfectly normal cat" comment, Max. Animals are not humans, every species has its own weird conventions, and it would be absurd to expect an animal to act like a human. It would also be absurd to expect a human to act like a different animal. But I've always managed to get along with cats and dogs and birds and every kind of creature under the sun, just by behaving toward them the way they behave toward each other. I don't think of it as me conforming to cat culture or dog culture or bird culture or whatever, but as communicating in a foreign language; or not even that, it's just communicating with a different kind of entity in the way that you communicate with such things.
I get along with animals because I treat them like a different kind of people, instead of like, well, animals, or objects of some kind; I am friendly with them in their own specific sense of "friendly". And I think this way I've learned to get along with people is essentially learning to treat them like I treat animals -- which is not to say to "treat them like animals" in some dehumanizing way, but to think of them as a different species, and most importantly, not to think of that as a big deal. It's not some arduous internal translation effort to see a cat's ears back and know it's angry or see a dog panting and wagging its tail and know it's happy -- you just see those things and think "that's an angry cat" or "that's a happy dog". Humans are no different in principle; just a different breed.
Although I am curious now: do people with conditions that make it difficult to read human emotions have similar difficulty reading e.g. cat or dog emotions?