So today I found out that I failed miserably on a school assignment. It was a pretty big thing, and I’m really upset over it. My teacher is giving me another shot at the assignment, but I’m just so mad about it. I should have gotten it right the first time. The answer was right in front of my face if I had just taken the time to look for it.
Needless to say, I’m not taking it well. As I’ve blogged about previously, I can sometimes be a perfectionist. If I’m doing something, it’s gotta be right. I can’t fail, otherwise all of my effort has been one big waste of time. Because of this, I went into “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD” mode in response to my failing grade.
Don’t ever ask me what’s the worst that can happen. Because huge bunnies could attack New York City.
It comes down to the fact that I don’t like looking stupid. I hate not knowing something, and I hate it even more when other people know I don’t know something. It’s why I lie and say I know where a street is when someone is talking about a location that I’ve never been to. It’s why I try to fix any mistakes I make with as little fanfare and attention as possible.
Nothing to see here, people.
It’s difficult for me, but I just have to accept the fact that I’m not and never will be perfect. There will always be things in this world that I don’t know, and these are opportunities to learn. And most important, I can be smart without having all of the right answers all of the time.
The funny thing about my Aspergers is that it blesses (curses?) me with extreme polarity. I can remember the tiniest minutiae of information, yet I can’t remember where I put my keys. I can deal with major levels of discomfort, but I can’t handle having an itchy tag on the collar of my shirt. And while it gives me the ability to tune out things that drive me crazy, it also makes me lose my shit at the smallest provocation.
So that’s where my keys were.
My tolerance level is practically nil for certain EXTREMELY annoying things. Recently, my daughter has begun making this really strange noise with her mouth/throat that makes me nauseous. It sounds like a pig trying to stop itself from vomiting. In fact, you know what? I can’t even describe how gross it is, so I’m going to let you experience it for yourself:
I told you so.
Now, I don’t know if this is some sort of new stim/nervous tic she has developed, but I have told her over and over again to STOP MAKING THAT GOD DAMN NOISE. But she doesn’t stop. Most likely can’t stop, but that makes no difference to me. Last night she made the noise at least ten times while we were playing Life, until finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I told her if she kept doing it, I’d make sure she wouldn’t be able to play at Life anymore. And I wasn’t talking about the board game.
She didn’t think it was funny, either.
And it’s even funnier that as I’m writing a blog post about not having any tolerance for anything, I have a difficult time making the post exactly how I want it to be and end up throwing a tantrum over it. I can usually problem solve pretty effectively, but sometimes the problem is just so frustrating that it makes me just up and say “fuck this shit” and give up. I had some other things to talk about in this post, but I’ve kinda lost the groove after my energy-draining frustration explosion.
A conversation on Twitter earlier today brought up an interesting point about my aspie traits – my ability to handle bad news compared to my inability to not know what’s going on. Most people would rather not know about something bad that happened so they can go about their day without being affected by the events. Not me.
First of all, I’m hardly ever deeply affected by things that don’t directly involve me. It may seem callous and cold to say that, but seriously… have you read any of my other posts? It’s clear that Aspergers causes me to be somewhat self involved and gives me some emotional insulation from the rest of the world.
Hey, what can I say? I’m the King of I Don’t Give a Shit.
Secondly, I can’t just not know what’s going on. In fact, once I’m alerted to something going on, I MUST know what’s up. It’s my thirst for knowledge – there can’t be something that somebody knows that I don’t know about. Or at least I have to be able to make a decision about whether it’s worth my time to investigate. Saying “nevermind” or “don’t worry about it” to me is the same as saying “you’re going to obsess over what I’m not telling you about for the next three days or until you find out exactly what it is I’m hiding from you.”
In general, people with Aspergers love to learn. Many Aspies find themselves bored in school, simple because the flow of new information is too slow for their brains to maintain focus on. Some parents choose to homeschool their Aspie children; very often these children end up one or even two grades ahead, simply because once they start learning they DO NOT WANT TO STOP. There’s no better feeling for me personally than learning some weird obscure fact or understanding a concept that has eluded me for a while.
Oh, I get it now! You remove the Pop Tarts from the foil package BEFORE putting them in the toaster!
The one thing that us Aspies hate about learning – it’s work! It’s hard. We don’t like it when things are hard. Being challenged is one thing, but we want to be challenged in a way where success is guaranteed. Unfortunately, in the process of learning it’s very common for people to get things wrong. Being wrong sucks. Sometimes the prospect of being wrong is so scary and overwhelming that it can launch an Aspie right into what is known as the “Failure Cycle,” shown abpve.
And shown below, more delicious breakfast pastries.
It’s all part of the Aspergers Decision Tree, which basically covers everything from “I love learning! This is so cool!!!” to “I HATE BEING WRONG, THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD EVER BE!!!” And, yes, it’s that extreme. Some Aspies can be so intimidated by the possibility of failure that they get stuck and refuse to make a decision for fear of making the wrong choice. Others will deliberately make a wrong choice – because, hey, if you’re gonna be wrong, might as well be wrong on your own terms, right?
No matter what you say, Mom, I’m sure the knives belong here instead of the kitchen drawer…
As parents, caregivers, spouses, etc., it is our job to help the Aspie escape the cycle by prompting them to make a choice… any choice! We Aspies must learn that it’s okay to make the wrong choice, as long as we learn from our mistakes. It’s one of the most important lessons anyone must learn. It just takes Aspies a little longer to accept it.
It’s kind of funny how my brain processes stress. I don’t know if it’s my Aspieness or just the way I am, but I seem to be somewhat immune to the rising pressure of a life or death situation.
This actually comes in handy at work. In my job, one mistake can literally kill a person. Sure, there are quality checks in place to prevent this from happening, but the checks are not perfect. The fact remains – I could seriously harm or kill a person with a mistake as small as a typo. And, oh yeah, I almost forgot… in certain situations, if I don’t work quick enough, someone might die as well. So pretty much every day, lives depend on my ability to be fast and accurate with my work. Can you imagine if every time you got the wrong order at the drive through window, you ended up dead?
Now here’s the funny thing: it doesn’t bother me in the least. I actually find myself strangely energized when I’m thrusted into those types of high pressure situations. I excel, I succeed, and dare I say it… I have fun. It’s not that I don’t understand the severity of the events. I just know I’m that damn good at my job to handle even the heaviest situation.
Ironically, it’s the smaller things that tend to drive me crazy. Situations that would seem insignificant to you end up tying me in knots: if my wife sends me to the store to get a specific item and it’s sold out, if I misplace something and can’t find it, or if I start to cook something and I’m missing an ingredient. Just the other day, I threw a tantrum because I couldn’t get the Food Saver to work properly while trying to prep meat for the freezer.
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!
But seriously… I find it fascinating that I can keep it together at work when someone’s life hangs in the balance, yet completely lose my shit in the face of freezer burn.
After excesive frustration with Blogger’s Twitter widget (IS IT THAT BAD THAT I WANT MY TWEETS TO SHOW UP ON MY BLOG?!?!?), and after much urging from my wife, I decided to move Inside the Mind of an Aspie over to WordPress. So here we are!
I’m working on getting everything set up and customized to the way I want them, so things might look a little funky until I get things settled.
Hopefully WordPress will work out, otherwise I may have to go crawling back to Blogger or find somewhere else to blog. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.