Monday, April 13, 2015

I'm not annoying, but I fear I am

I find myself wondering rather frequently if I'm annoying.

I know it's a big part of the social anxiety I've developed as a result of being rejected by most of my peers growing up, but it plagues me to this day. I'm afraid to open up to my friends because I don't want to annoy them with my problems. I'm afraid to talk about my own interests with people because I'm afraid of boring them and not being a good conversationalist. People avoided me as a kid because I would do that, and I was aware of it. Now I'm worried about info-dumping, even with people I'm close to. (Writing is a great outlet for me in that regard.)

I'm realizing that it's exhausting to try to pass as neurotypical all the time. I'd love to live in a world where I don't have to and I can comfortably be myself, but I don't live there yet. I live in a world where I have to seem "normal" in order to be accepted, a world where my 2009 OCD-related mental breakdown is stigmatized and makes people think I'm "crazy." It's a world that's decidedly against people like me.

Asperger's aside, I do indeed have OCD and social anxiety as comorbid conditions, and they feed off of each other. I'm terrified of any potential social missteps, and my OCD amplifies them significantly to the point where I regularly lose sleep over the fear of upsetting my friends or irritating people I'm trying to get a point across to. And at my tour guide job, I would email my boss regularly about goings-on that were in my mind relevant, but when she didn't reply very often it reinforced the idea in me that I was annoying and had to deal with everything myself.

And that's usually what I end up doing - internalizing my problems and dealing with them myself, because I end up thinking that I annoy everybody. I know it's my brain telling me this and not necessarily me, but so many things in my life can trigger this feeling - my family being busy, my friends not sounding interested in what I'm talking about, a superior not replying to messages I send - and the OCD makes it linger for hours and hours. I'll often end up with anxiety headaches and nausea and end up feeling like I'm back in 7th grade being rejected and ignored by my peers.

In 7th grade, I didn't really have friends. My elementary school friends were more acquaintances to me by that point, and nobody else wanted to be my friend. I was being bullied horribly, too, and to this day, I fear being rejected - not just by men, even though boys were my primary bullies, but by everyone for everything social.

I know I'm not an annoying person and my friends and family love me very much, but my brain can't help but make me feel that way sometimes due to how it makes me perceive things, and it's a genuinely frustrating, awful thing to have to live with.


  1. Steph,
    I wanted to let you know that you seem like a pretty darn cool person, and smart, too! You come across as confident and knowledgeable on what you’re interested in, and I like that. And you show genuine excitement for what you like doing, like when you were making those animations for my documentary. I have had the same experience with people not replying to my emails or messages, making me wonder if I come across as needy or annoying—but I think while that could be possible, it’s more likely that the other person just doesn’t know what to say, or perhaps they are too busy. Because the truth is, most people are so focused on themselves and on their own lives that if they are silly enough to judge you, it’s only for a few seconds and for dumb reasons that have more to do with their own problems than yours. It’s taken me years to accept this idea, but people have always told me that if people don’t appreciate me, that’s their own fault—their inexperience with Asperger’s, their insecurities, their fear of being judged—things like that can alter their view of people like me and you. I hope that helps to know.

    So on the surface, I can confirm that you seem absolutely normal, and I wouldn’t have known what you deal with if you didn’t express it in this post. So thank you for sharing it, it’s really good to know I’m not the only anxiety-ridden aspie who appears “normal.” I think you and I would get along great, like we do already!

    1. Oh gosh, it's such a relief to know I'm not the only one who has that anxiety! It's definitely hard for me to realize that I'm probably not annoying anyone due to past experiences, but I'm starting to slowly get there! It's just taking a really long time.

      I'm glad the documentary's coming along! I know it's only the short version so far, but I'm so excited about it!

  2. It's not uncommon for famous autistic people to share a deep passion for whatever they like. That’s why they are at high ranking positions, because unlike other employees, they don't spend their time socializing with others, but rather learning as much as humanly possible about their passion.

  3. Dang so we all deal with the feeling that no one wants us around?

    1. I suspect that based on our experiences we do often feel this way - if our peers reject us when we're younger, we're much more likely to think that people don't want us around.

      Luckily, I've got some great friends now who definitely do want me around, but it's definitely tough to deal with!