Monday, August 1, 2022

The Joys (and pain) of Alias

I've created and defined numerous concepts that better help others understand the nuances of the autism spectrum. For myself, it can be frustrating to define something, understand it, and be powerless to do anything about it. One the main things this plays out in is within my concept of Alias.

The concept, to put simply, is that I am much able to play a role much more than a wide-open social situation involving myself. Within a role, such as a presenter, or an official at a race, is precise as to what is expected, and there are rules that better help define what is expected. It doesn't take much to go from a position of comfort within Alias to being extremely socially awkward and hoping the social encounter ends quickly. 

Last week, INDYCAR did an interview with me for a segment called, "Meet the Paddock" which allows fans to get a glimpse at the vast array of individuals that are involved in the series be it on the competitive side, or as in my case, the series side.

The interview was to take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as I was already there helping setup in preparation for the weekend's race. It was to be shot in a place I had never been so there was a bit of anxiety as to where, exactly, it was. With that being so I headed over early because I always have to be early to avoid any social encounters on asking for help.

When I got to the location, it wasn't too long thereafter that the camera guy, sound guy, and the interviewer arrived. I see all of these individuals at every race; sometimes in passing and sometimes in the flag stand so I thought I'd be fully comfortable, but I wasn't. This is the frustrating aspect of Alias. Each time prior I was comfortable enough to converse and small talk, but on this day, with it not being a day where cars were on track or myself in the flag stand, I was lost.

On the outside I looked uncomfortable, but on the inside, I was screaming, "please, please know it's not you! I'm here, I just don't know how to do here right now." 

It's one of the most isolating feelings in the world, this not knowing how to simply be when around others. Also, knowing that in the right environment things are fine makes these bits a bit more difficult.

The microphones were placed, the cameras set up, and without much prep the interview began. Like a key in a car's ignition being turned to make the car come to life so too was my comfort level. I went from over-processing and awkward to spot on and fully on my game with a simple introduction by the interviewer. 

It was a blast. I had so much fun during that interview and felt fully at ease. I was able to slip into my Alias and tomorrow I'll post the video of the interview but do know that the minutes before the interview I was experiencing positional warfare (that's being uncomfortable in one's own skin and having no idea how I should inhabit the space I'm in) and barely able to craft a response without overanalyzing it. 

When not in an Alias, it is frustrating to know what I'm capable of. It's crushing to know that, with the right environment, I can soar with ease. However, when the right environment occurs, and the social anxiety vanishes, it's the most freeing and liberating sensation in the world. You, I think, will see it on the interview tomorrow. 

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