Egrets I have a few… How About You?
A Note on Navigating Social Faux Paxes, Being Autistic and Self-Forgiveness
Yes, in all seriousness there’s something to say about the regrets we have; whether they be unfortunate tattoos that spell out the name of small white birds rather than the word regrets; a corny joke that had too many uses, or even an unfortunate hair style like the bangs of tenth grade me or social faux pas we wish to erase from our memories like that unfortunate tattoo; they seem a common experience for us humans and brings to mind the turn of phrase “to err is human” but what if it’s especially tricky to forget your err or errs as it may be. What if there are more faux pas than you would like. Unfortunately, I have one too many errs to count and a memory that doesn’t allow me to forget them that easily. So, something I said two weeks ago can still linger in my mind at the dinner table; or something embarrassing I did as a kid growing up has a far more likely occurrence of sticking with me later or resurfacing in another familiar situation.
Being on the Autistic spectrum it was (and still might be) common for me to make a few more mistakes than usual, especially in terms of navigating social cues and norms, missing them and reading signals. Mistakes like commenting on the wrong moment, interrupting and not being aware of it, inserting myself into confusing situations and other social faux pas that I used to be so embarrassed by as a conscience, well-meaning individual used to leave me so embarrassed, but now, luckily, I seem to have acquired a thicker skin these days that have helped me get through them a little less painfully. I also believe that there’s something to be said about stumbling your way through enough awkward situations to know that beating yourself up doesn’t help anything, and that as luck (or whatever you may call it) would have it experiencing said circumstances actually seems to help give one a slighter thicker, more resilient skin. One that says “hey, at least I tried this and while it may not have exactly gone as planned I’ll keep trying anyways” or ” this sounded better in my head… but I’ll keep learning”. So as such I am working on seeing these faux pas as lessons, an interesting stories or most importantly proof that I have been trying to navigate this confusing world at times, and as proof that in amidst the confusion I continue to work to understand others and navigate my way around social situations that can seem beyond me.
Is it easy? Not all the time. Do I still beat myself up from time to time? Of course, I’m human, and at times even I still wrestle with the fact that my brain can work completely different than others, but if I let myself be completely discouraged after each awkward interaction I wouldn’t learn or be who I am today. So, I chose to carry onward, take what I learned from that, grow a bit and embrace life on the spectrum… because it sure as heck beats the alternative (being stuck).
Just keep swimming friends,