The dreaded term. The crux of all my problems.
Socialize – verb: To mix socially with others.
A common view on those with Asperger’s or Autism is that they hate socializing, that they want to avoid it at all cost because of their percieved general disinterest in other people.
It’s safe to say that is, for many, incorrect and a total misconception.
It’s not that we don’t want to socialize, it’s just that it is exceedingly difficult to create an environment that is comfortable and conducive for a conversation. We will often have to mold to NT ideals on socializing, and that almost always leads to feeling exhausted.
If you ask me about Asperger’s syndrome in Women, I could talk at you about it for a long, long time. All the things I’ve learnt, all my thoughts, all thanks to the hours upon hours daily I spend researching it.
In that time though, would I ask you your thoughts and opinions? No.
Would I stop to check that you’re even remotely interested? No.
These things would not cross my mind, because I’m so immersed in one of my special interests that the world is simply a sounding board for all this marvelous information – and it’s still a shock that people aren’t as interested as I to this day!
Because of this, I can become tiresome to those I interact with. Every conversation seems to come back around to what I’m deeply interested in; Asperger’s, Mental Illness, Radio, American Politics and (oddly) Relationships.
It’s cumbersome for those listening, when I explain every facet of Asperger’s in Women, and then expect the same people with low-to-no interest in the “disorder” to follow.
I have compiled a list of easy tips to make socializing a much smoother process. They work for me, and I hope they work for you:
- Don’t talk about your special interests unless specifically asked – even then, keep it brief and on a “beginner” basis. People will probably only ask to be polite, not out of actual interest. Unless they push for more information on the topic, don’t offer it.
- The golden rule I have learnt is that people love to speak about themselves, and where I find it irksome, they find it seemingly soothing. Therefore, ask more questions than you answer. You may be surprised and hear something actually interesting. It’s rare, but it happens.
- I have poor emotional control, and when I feel anxious, I shift that energy to appear wildly excited rather than completely terrified. This is especially prevalent in meeting new people. Don’t be friendly to everyone as soon as you meet them. I’ve found people often don’t like or trust someone who is overly excited and/or friendly upon first meeting.
- Keep your most honest opinions to yourself if they aren’t asked for. Say your friend is dressed in a colour you despise, it is imperative for smooth relations that you do not tell them. It’ll only lead to confusion and offense, and who is “normal” that loathes the colour yellow anyway, hmm?
- Avoid the urge to be by yourself at social events. This one is tricky. Whenever I’m out with my friends, I often yearn to sit alone and enjoy a beer in my own company. I have found it’s okay to step out, especially if your with people that understand that you need time, but it’s never okay to spend the whole duration of the event away from your colleagues/friends/partner. I find 20-30 minutes in and 10 minutes out an okay balance. Before you know it, it’ll be time to leave.
I’d love to read your ideas on little “tips” to make socializing easier, feel free to comment and I will compile them into a nice, long, helpful list.