This is the first in a series of occasional introspective mini-posts dedicated to exploring the question posed above.
If I were you I wouldn’t bother to read such self-indulgent claptrap, though I suppose if you knew me better it might help you to understand.
Dissecting my own personality in public is anathema, about as far from my comfort zone as it’s possible to travel. I really don’t like to generate so many personal pronouns, but maybe the process will be vaguely cathartic.
I don’t really want to get into definitions and the science of it – at least not yet. I plan to begin with some honest personal testimony.
I’ve always self-identified as introverted, but have recently been persuaded that I might (also) be ‘on the spectrum’.
I don’t mind either way – I’m not in the least bit clubbable, so it’s not really necessary for me to squeeze myself into someone else’s categories.
Anyway it’s a mixed blessing:
- On one hand I can’t be the only middle class, middle-aged white man who finds it hard to appreciate his own theoretical hegemony. It feels good to have a syndrome, some deficit (if it is indeed a deficit) that makes me properly special, an underdog not an oppressor.
- On the other, I know my limitations are severely limited. They’re merely a minor inconvenience. If there’s a spectrum I’m hanging off the undeserving end. I don’t want to deflect time and attention away from the poor sods who really need help and support.
There are only two environments in which I feel vaguely uncomfortable and unhappy – parties and official receptions. I’m ill-disposed to enter into small talk with strangers. What’s the point? If anyone normal wants to engage on substance they’ll make a bee-line in my direction.
Communication via social media is frustrating. The heaving swell of guff, fluff and banter often threatens to capsize me.
Inward-facing cliques are everywhere – the virtual equivalent of those safety-in-numbers groups I see at receptions. They’ve circled the waggons and won’t let an outsider challenge their flabby complacency.
I deal in balanced logical argument. I don’t bother trying (and inevitably failing) to build relationships as a means of persuasion. Why do that, unless to pull the wool over people’s eyes?
I despise anything purporting to be a serious piece of work that turns out to be a triumph of style over substance. Something isn’t good just because lots of people say it is, indeed quite the reverse. I know when I’m being sold a pup.
Charisma is never to be trusted, especially when it’s deployed to bolster an argument.
I don’t really have any friends. I’m too high maintenance – and so are they for me. I prefer my own company but, if it wasn’t for my immediate family, I would be desperately lonely. You can have too much of a good thing.
I can cope OK in small social groups with people I know well, preferably with the support of alcohol. Even then I’m a poor conversationalist, allegedly hopeless at reading others’ subtle verbal and non-verbal cues. I don’t do empathy.
Often I seem invisible to others when waiting at a bar, but I’ve developed a wicked death stare for those who think they can queue-jump with impunity.
Long ago I came to terms with my own inadequacies. I really rather like myself, although I’m sure you must think me an aloof and arrogant shit. I don’t do self-loathing either.
The way I remember it, all this began with an awful adolescence; prior to that I was perfectly well-adjusted.
At work I pretended to be somebody different, often successfully, but that got much harder in the latter years. This ‘deterioration’ has continued now that I’m self-employed. I know I’m becoming harder to live with.