Eighth of Asperger’s Ten Traits – “Trapped, […] pretending to be normal”


“8) We are ourselves and we aren’t ourselves. Between imitating others and copying the ways of the world, and trying to be honest, and having no choice but to be “real”, we find ourselves trapped between pretending to be normal and showing all our cards. It’s a difficult state. Sometimes we don’t realize when we are imitating someone else or taking on their interests, or when we are suppressing our true wishes in order to avoid ridicule. We have an odd sense of self. We know we are an individual with unique traits and attributes, with unique feelings, desires, passions, goals, and interests, but at the same time we recognize we so desperately want to fit in that we might have adapted or conformed many aspects about ourselves. Some of us might reject societal norms and expectations all together, embracing their oddities and individuality, only to find themselves extremely isolated. There is an in between place where an aspie girl can be herself and fit in, but finding that place and staying in that place takes a lot of work and processing. Some of us have a hard time recognizing facial features and memorize people by their clothes, tone of voice and hairstyle. Some of us have a hard time understanding what we physically look like. We might switch our preference in hairstyles, clothes, interests, and hobbies frequently, as we attempt to manage to keep up with our changing sense of self and our place. We can gain the ability to love ourselves, accept ourselves, and be happy with our lives, but this usually takes much inner-work and self-analysis. Part of self-acceptance comes with the recognition that everyone is unique, everyone has challenges, and everyone is struggling to find this invented norm. When we recognize there are no rules, and no guide map to life, we may be able to breathe easier, and finally explore what makes us happy.”

Used with permission from @everydayaspergers. Originally published in Samantha Croft‘s -now former- blog, Everyday Asperger’s, as The Ten Traits.

One of my most intriguing oddities (and I started to adore them all, even when they’re naughty) is the constant failure to recognise my colleagues outside work. Working in a hospital environment requires some sort of uniform, which together with the background provided by the site’s micro- and macro-environment, form the “picture” which an autistic brain memorises.

Now, that wouldn’t be a problem for the neurotypical individual, but it does become a major one for the neurodivergent, because as Samantha brilliantly mentions in her article, autistics seem to memorise people by anything else but their faces. And this oddity doesn’t become obvious until one day, a colleague tells you with a smile/smirk on their faces, that it’s not nice to pass them by at the mall, or another has to stand in your way, looking rather puzzled for the “embarrassing” time your brain needs to remove the previous details from around their faces, implementing them into the new environment, finally triggered by their perplexed voices asking you why would you pretend not to see them?

Been there, done that, now and again, and again, and again…

But the worst of it all, is the involuntary compulsion to act “normal”, switching automatically to puerile excuses of not having seen them, having a headache, being tired, being busy, etc, none of them actually true.

What I am step-by-step realising, is a uniqueness I don’t want to give up anymore, an increasing desire and practical moves to “reject societal norms and expectations all together”, “embracing my oddities and individuality”, caring less and less about finding myself “extremely isolated”, because if that means getting finally isolated from the vain, abusive, infatuated stupidity of “normal” societal details thinking that seeing me is knowing me, it’s more than welcome.

After all, if I am autistic, my world should be myself…

7 thoughts on “Eighth of Asperger’s Ten Traits – “Trapped, […] pretending to be normal”

  1. a friend and i were discussing the authentic attire of different indigenous, especially the ones who wear bright colors…. and how, with time, they start to absorb the trends of the outside world… it’s hard to cling to what makes one unique, as ‘we’ stand out – and often we don’t want that… but when one learns to be proud of what is unique – and ‘damn to all’ who don’t realize what a gift that is — oh, that’s when we shine…. and slowly we become comfortable with what makes us unique….

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  2. I don’t really have this problem with face identification. On the contrary and rather interestingly, I encountered occasions where people fail to recognise or notice me even if I walked right past them…which is fine, I wasn’t going to stop and say hi anyway 😂 But yes, I’m also finding myself, “an increasing desire and practical moves to “reject societal norms and expectations all together…”

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  3. I have always had difficulty with facial recognition. While I can memorize specific facial features of individuals such as eye colour or nose shape or size of ear lobes etc, I’m not able to put it all together into a whole recognisable face – perhaps a bit like not seeing the forest for the trees.

    Even my nearest and dearest – my wife, children and grandchildren aren’t immune to being not recognised if not in familiar circumstances. Actually I recognise voices somewhat better than I do faces.

    Like you, I always gave some “creditable” excuse for failing to recognise someone, but then I didn’t know I was autistic until I was sixty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Barry. I absolutely agree, it seems easy to recall details, but if one detail changes, e.g haircut, hair style, make-up, clothing, even environment, the whole gets blurred. It happened today again, I passed by a person I’m very fond of, but since we were in a different place, and she was wearing her hair different, she needed to stand in front of me, when I recognised a particular feature of her mouth, and it “clicked”. And I have the same problem, with my traits identified at 54 👾

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