Thursday, July 28, 2022

Opening Moves

In my book, Finding Kansas, I mention that I see conversations as a chess match. A person opens, then there’s a response, and a response to the response and so on and so forth. Keeping the theme of chess active, if I were to state what my weakest part of my game is, it most certainly is in the opening move.

I don’t know how people do it. Yesterday at the track, a coworker waved at a person as we drove by in a golf cart. I looked at my coworker as I didn’t recognize who he waved to and I said, “do you know him?” My coworker smiled, shook his head, and said “no”. 

How? I was so confused. How does a person wave or initiate a conversation with someone they don’t know. There aren’t many things that make me shudder in fear, but being the opener to a conversation is one and my coworker navigates the openings as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. 

In many situations I probably come off as snobbish or stand-offish. I’m aware of this and yet it isn’t something I can just do. The difficult thing to understand about the autism spectrum is that, the next person with my same diagnosis, may have no problems making the opening move, but perhaps the timing is off or they can’t “read the room” so to speak and talk to people that may otherwise be engaged in another conversation.

I’ve tried to overcome this, but it isn’t something that I can do. I try not to think of the list opportunities, the potential friendships, and all the chances lost due to the fact that, if the conversation chess game is left to me to open, the chess board will remain unplayed with two sets of perfectly set up pieces waiting until the end of time for that first move. 

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