The balancing act
You might have noticed from previous posts that I’ve come to the conclusion that every Aspie needs a suitable work environment to flourish. It’s no good saying “I can do that” when you know that, regardless of whether you can or can’t, doing ‘that’ will make you uncomfortable and stressed all the time.
These tentative considerations, which took me a long time to learn and accept, are taken even further in the book I’m reading. It’s called Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking and it’s by Susan Cain.
Introversion is something that Aspies know a lot about – even if they don’t realise it. I won’t go over the ideas in the book, but I can recommend it for people with Asperger’s, NTs (neuro-typicals), introverts and extroverts. It doesn’t vilify either party, which is really refreshing.
Many introverts have probably experienced annoyance and jealousy regarding their extrovert counterparts. Likewise, I suspect many extroverts have been confused and even offended by introverts, simply because they misunderstand our intentions. The truth is we can all get along fine – we just need a little help understanding each other.
I spent a long time trying to fit in with other people’s expectations, which normally meant trying to be an extrovert. I took one of my first ever jobs as a sales/customer service person specifically to push and enhance my social skills. I nodded and enthused my way through the interview questions saying “yes” to teamwork, sales, meeting new people and other things that make me die a little inside.
I overbalanced. I had a lot of stress and misery. But I also learnt a lot about my capabilities and I made friends. One of these friends became my best friend. I never set the sales figures alight but I did deliver good customer service and I coped with more than I’d ever have previously believed possible.
Quiet cuppa or noisy party?
As with many ‘stretching’ experiences (from an Aspie or introvert’s perspective) the best bit is reviewing what you learnt after the event, preferably from the comfort of a better job, with a cuppa. But being comfortable isn’t always good for you.
Sometimes pushing yourself into difficult situations can be the best thing you’ll ever do. That’s how I made all my friends, it’s how I met all my boyfriends (and my husband) and it’s also how I hooked myself out of depression. The trick is to keep a balance and spend some time being comfortable to recharge and some time pushing yourself to do more. Don’t be afraid to test the water!
The same can be said for introvert/extrovert relations. Don’t hate someone just because they’re ‘too loud’. Introversion is a sliding scale and you may find a shared perspective or interest, even with people you thought were non-stop party animals.
My best friend is an introvert but I consider my husband to be an extrovert. I work with both types of people now and (shock horror) I mostly find it easier to talk to the extroverts. And I enjoy it. There, I said it.
Remember, you can probably do more than you think, and extroverts aren’t all bad.