Who Am I?
I’ve spent my life wondering who I really am. I’m so complex, the product of two parents who were polar opposites.
My father, I suspect had an ASD. Aloof, logical, critical, cutting and extraordinarily intelligent, with a talent for maths and science. We nicknamed him at various times ‘Spock’ and Sherlock’. A man so cynical and perceptive that nothing ever escaped his gaze.
My mother, an extreme extrovert. She was very talkative, lively, adored people, particularly children. She was also witty, artistic, musical, creative, good at languages, an excellent mimic. She was a woman with infinite compassion for all living creatures, someone who taught me how to rescue tiny flies that flew into my drink by gently scooping them out and letting them rest gently on my finger until their wings dried out and they could fly away.
The weird thing is, I have inherited almost all of these characteristics. I can be unforgiving and utterly ruthless, but at the same time, feel an overwhelming compassion for the innocent, and have a passionate sense of social justice. I almost feel like I’m two people at the same time.
There are so many strands to my personality that I don’t know which ones to express to people. I can’t express them all or they’ll be overwhelmed, so I have to choose. There’s a new employee at work and I had to make a decision.
I listened to everything she said, analysed her choice of words, her inflection, her accent etc. and extracted vital information which would enable me to come up with a workable summary of her personality. I ran this information through my brain and it told me which of my personality traits/opinions/interests were the best match for hers (rather like being matched on an old-fashioned dating site). Afterwards, I concentrated on my performance and hoped that I would be able to successfully maintain the deception without anybody noticing. I suspect that this constitutes ‘autistic masking’. It did occur to me that this situation is far from ideal, it would be nice to be able to ‘be myself’ whatever that means. The trouble is that there is no ‘myself’ as such, but rather there are a large number of different selves and they’re all equally valid.
I wondered if it’s like this for everybody. I’ll never be inside somebody else’s head, so I’ll never know for sure how ‘normal’ people feel. From infancy, I’ve assumed that I’m different from other people and it certainly seems that way, but how can I be sure? How can anybody really express how it feels inside their own head. A person, be they autistic or neurotypical, can only ever be one person and their innermost thoughts and feelings are so much a part of who they are that surely it is almost impossible to express it – to put it into words in a form that others can understand.
What I would really like is to be able to be myself to all people at all times, to proudly express my eclectic collection of personality traits and truly be myself in the company of other human beings but sadly, I don’t think that can ever be the case.