Monday, January 21, 2013

"Does it Get Old?"

Where was Friday's blog post? I was going to write on this topic but I still hadn't worked it out in my head. This has been on my mind for a week and I still don't fully know how or what to feel on it.

It started last Monday at a presentation when a parent gave a strong compliment and a coworker asked, "Does that ever get old, hearing comments like that?" Another parent asked a question immediately after so I was unable to answer and that was a good thing because I didn't have an answer.

First, to answer this question, I would have to say "no" because if I'm hearing those comments then that means people are being helped. However, on the personal side, each time I hear something like that my mind has such a hard time grasping what it means.

Grasping what it means? I would have to say this means that the emotional and processing side of my brain has no idea what to make of comments that are strongly positive. But a positive comment is a positive comment, what's there to process? Many things and maybe this is where uninformed 'experts' say that those with Asperger's have no emotions because if I couldn't explain this internal confusion it could be taken that there are no emotions here.

Perhaps another aspect in play is my awful belief that something must be difficult to be good and since presenting is so easy for me now it mustn't be good. Don't get me wrong, I know what I am doing is important. The odd thing about this is the fact that at the same time I know what I'm doing, and reaching tens of thousands of people, is vitally important and yet at the same time I don't put any stock in the fact that what I'm doing is anything special because I am simply doing it.

This seems to be a common thing among us with Asperger's; a complete sense of naivety about things we do well. The story, when I hear it, is always the same; a person can be phenomenal at something but there is no sense of pride or joy because they just do it. There's no effort, it's truly a gift, and at the end we'll look more at what we missed or maybe didn't do to perfection than hear the positive comments.

The thing I've been working through on this is the fact that I've been trying to figure out how I feel on knowing I have this. I mean, is it a small tragedy that I get confused and over-process these comments instead of being able to feel a sense of pride in knowing that I am helping others and changing the world for those people? Although, if I did feel that pride, would I still be who I am?

Would I still be who I am... this is the question that I have been asking myself sense Monday. Well, not so much asking but obsessing on and it seems in my life all the life changing questions are not meant to be life changing. In my 2nd month of blogging I had another example of a question having a huge impact on my life.

So, would I be who I am? I've stared at my screen for 15 minutes now since I finished the last paragraph still thinking about this and I have to say that I think I would not. I do what I do because I don't want anyone to feel as hopeless as I did after I got my diagnosis and this is done through understanding. I partially understand that I do raise this level, but I now believe my mind only allows myself to understand the factual aspect of this meaning that comprehending the emotions of doing this and the response is something that I just can't understand. This is how I can feel that what I'm doing has such an importance and yet is nothing all that special at the same time. This is also how I can present and be on top of my game and 15 minutes afterwards be experiencing a bout of, "forgetting who I am because I am seeing who I'm not." Of course, if it weren't for this would I still write in the same way? Would I still feel as passionate about this cause? Would I still care? The answer is that I don't think I would, or maybe that isn't the right word but rather I would become overly complacent and a bit high about myself.

So in the end, does it get old? This question is unanswerable because every time I hear a comment it is like hearing it for the first time. And each time it does happen I am just as confused as the last. I simply do what I do because it needs to be done.


  1. Aaron - I was present during this presentation and witnessed the exchange you are referring to.

    I'll put into words what *I* think it means - it means that you opened my eyes and made me understand my 10 year old daughter infinitely better. And for that, I am extremely grateful!

  2. Within the world of anime/manga events I've seen too many people shooting for the volunteering job of Staff, simply because it's a high function. Not because they like the function itself. They know that Staffmembers are looked upon by the visitors.
    I've seen some of these people actually becoming great Staff members. Then they become SO full of themselves, they lose all sight of the job they were actually supposed to carry out and simply lay back, getting a lot of credit for minimum work.
    Then, when someone tries to tell them they're doing something wrong, they say "Are you trying to talk back to me?? I'm a Staffmember and I've become one for a reason! I know what I'm doing! So listen to me, or be kicked out of the convention!"
    This is a Staffmember who has become greedy with power and arrogant. Just because someone isn't a Staffmember, this doesn't mean that that person is wrong and that you have to go and threaten this person.

    I think this is where you went in a different direction. You didn't start out doing the things that you're doing because you know you'll be looked up upon. You simply started doing what you're doing because you knew the need was out there. You didn't shoot for the stars, you shooted for spreading understanding, which is exactly what your job is meant for.
    I think doing something because you like to do it and know the need is there, is a far greater reason, than doing something to gain popularity.

    This is probably also the reason it's hard for you to feel a sense of pride. You simply did what your guts told you to do, you didn't shoot for popularity. So when you're rewarded with people who look up to you, you get confused, as it's not the reward you were looking for.
    Still, you don't define it as a bad thing, as it does tell you that you helped a person. This isn't about popularity, this is about fulfilling a need, which you WERE shooting for.

    I think this is why you do see it as a positive thing, as you're getting confirmed that what you set out to do is happening the way you want it, but you aren't filled with pride, as popularity isn't what you're searching for. You seek self confidence within yourself, not within others. I think that's admirable.