This post is part of Project: Inception, written ~8 years ago. It has been untouched from its original, pseudonymous, form. It is also part of the larger “farewell” tour and countdown as I turn-off this blog and head to the
metaverse where I will live out the rest of my wonderful days. I hope to see you there!
Will you please just grow up?
If this wasn’t said directly and explicitly to my face the implication and some version of this has been countlessly shared with me, typically in exasperation. Whether a boss or a friend or a family member – it doesn’t really matter, it’s just been an oft-repeated question that I’ve spent the vast majority of my life trying, desperately, to answer.
But now I know that I cannot and there are some behavior and patterns of behavior that are mine to keep until I return to the dust from whence I came. And I find this incredibly satisfying and very empowering.
You see, for the aspie creative we’ve been given a unique gift and opportunity to have unlimited access to behavior and principles of thought that society and culture successfully beat out of neurotypicals.
The examples are numerous but there are a few that resound deeply in my soul, the first being an undying and intensely passionate and insatiable level of curiosity.
Therapists and psychiatrists have classified these things are “special interests,” a term that I do not necessarily feel upset or offended by but I think it can sound patronizing at times. These aren’t just interests that are special, these are obsessions in every sense of the word, radical and extreme in every way.
For clarity and context, it’s worth mentioning the one of the more accepted definitions via the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria or Asperger’s Syndrome: An encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
It’s also worth narrowing in on the fact that this preoccupation can be both an intense interest in a narrow focus as well as simply an intense interest in a less narrow focus. Since I’ve grown up with software engineers most of my life I’ve seen this in individuals who could care less about the whole of computer science and instead are desperately intrigued by one coding language only while there are others that are just as intensely interested in the whole instead of the specific.
The point is this: At the heart of it all is our curiosity – we must know everything about this focus and topic as if our very lives depended on it. In fact, in some literal ways, our lives do depend on it because without them we would most simply not be ourselves. We would decay, we would die, and when we are engrossed in them we are truly alive.
It’s this that is most confusing and sad when I observe many neurotypicals – they do not have deep and abiding passions and while some are content with being bland and exceptionally average most people have resigned themselves to believe that society will appreciate and accept them if they can just be like everyone else.
This cosmic display of apathy is both destructive for themselves and for society as a whole as they will never truly live a life that’s worth anything more than 60, 70, or if they are lucky, 80 years of existence. In addition the world will never benefit from their short time here on planet earth. They will contribute nothing more than excrement, the scientific process of oxydation of air-bound chemical components, and perhaps even more unfortunate, more mediocre homo-sapiens.
An aspie creative can do nothing else than build, create, and explore the depths of subjects and ideas and activities. We will not adhere to the societal pressures of fitting in or of being normal. We will cause a stir, consternation, and even opposition because no “normal” person would invest their entire life into the designing humane handling systems for the processing of cattle, right? It’s worth mentioning that Temple Grandin’s design is used by over half of the processing systems in the US and is oft-considered a defacto-standard in philosophy and design.
The world will beat the likes of an child-like curiosity out of you quicker than parents trying to potty train a teenager – it’s time to grow up. For us, though, this just isn’t a possibility and that’s a really good thing.