No one thinks anything of you. You are an afterthought. You aren’t given a chance. Despite having valuable contribution to give, you are brushed off. This does happen to a lot of people, both neurodiverse and not. However, it happens in a very particular way for some of us.
This is a topic that can be, and often is considered a controversial one. That being said, I would implore you to read all the way through before reacting.
I call it the Uninteresting Mind because, in both manifestations of this idea, the autistic person is regularly dismissed due to the application of societal norms to the situation. (For the record, these could apply to other neurodiverse individuals as well. Also, these specific descriptions on apply to me. Others may experience the same or similar, but could experience it differently.)
1. Uninteresting via Superiority/Difference
This is the more controversial of the two.
In society, there is an acknowledgement of superiority in physical competition. It’s actually hard to ignore, right? In a race, if the other person gets there first, they were superior. If you’re lifting weights, if the other person lifts heavier weights, they were superior. If you’re jumping, if the other person jumps higher, they were superior. That’s not so hard to fathom, right?
So when it comes to how people’s minds work, shouldn’t it be the same?
For the record, yes, I understand how to most people this is about to sound braggadocios, which is why I normally keep this angle to myself. But I am begging and pleading, approach this with an open mind, as I am about to make what is to me just a matter-of-fact statement.
Neurodiverse minds will work differently than neurotypical minds. For me, that manifests itself in spatial thinking versus linear thinking. This serves me well, because I have the ability to go over multiple iterations of an issue in my mind in the same time it takes most people to go through one iteration. It is a wonderful sensation, but has both its positives and negatives.
Here’s where I become uninteresting to others though. The moment I try to introduce information I had thought about and processed to others, I immediately am dismissed in my ideas. I couldn’t have come up with what I did, not with as much as I did, because the other person can’t. It is a difference. The other person sees it as me trying to lord some superiority over them. But my intentions are nominally pure in helping with whatever I was asked to help with.
I hate even bringing the word superiority in to this description, but that’s how a lot of people end up seeing this. To them it’s like being on the receiving end of “I’m better than you and am going to rub your face in it.” When I insist that isn’t the case and ask them to have an open mind, they agree, but then ask me to have the same open mind and think about their contribution to the conversation. Whether I agree with their contribution or not, the moment I say I have already considered what they had to say, they immediately insist that I couldn’t have.
All this creates situations where I just get jaded about any kind of participation, because I will hold back, not caring to have that sting of rejection. But that leads in to the second kind of uninteresting…
2. Uninteresting via Non-Submission
Many people, but most especially many neurodiverse people, don’t tell you even a sliver of what’s going on in their head. You’d be amazed at how much they think about, the scenarios they play out, and the conversations they have. Some people choose not to share. Other people process input in a different way than most, and are never given a chance to share.
But overall, these people are uninteresting because they don’t offer their input. Once again, neurotypical people often see this as an affront, or a lack of desire or will to engage.
For me, for every one thing I’ve ever said to anyone, I have about 50 or more things I haven’t said.
“Well, that’s just being considerate. That’s knowing how to police yourself.”
NO! That’s knowing that most people will never understand me because they will never attempt to. I have people in my life that attempt to understand me, and about 1 in 500 just goes over their head. Then I’ve got people that try to understand me out of duty or responsibility, and it’s appreciated, but the effort to be open-minded isn’t there, so about 1 in 100 to 1 in 250 goes over their head. The number goes drastically down from there. Most anyone else, it’s between 1 and 3 in 10 things that go over their head. And this is about 95% of people in my life. They judge with their reactions, their words, and their body language. They judge based off what they are used to and what they grew up with.
3. Not So Uninteresting, Eh?
Believe me, I have edited this several times before posting it. So anything in here was not posted in haste. In fact, the particular conversation I had with the particular person that led to this writing happened more than two weeks ago.
I would understand anyone that knows me reading this and wanting to know if I was talking about them. But I’ve been so conditioned to keep things to myself that I’m not sure I’d be able to tell anyone if they asked. (Frankly, I don’t keep account of EVERY single time I’ve been on the receiving end of all of this. But the way it feels to deal with it is always front of mind.)
I write this to make others aware. Whether me, or someone else, be open-minded. Do not judge in haste.
Remember the Golden Rule?
Also published on Medium.