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I'm on the Autism spectrum.  Ever since I was a child, I have found social situations awkward because I apparently don't have that tiny part of the brain that tells me when to keep my opinion to myself and/or I am too silent and people interpret that as being "creepy." I feel anxious around people too, mostly because I find the way they interact with each other disturbing.

 

Here's the paradox: I DJ at festivals and clubs.  Being on stage in that capacity has never bothered me.  I guess because I can focus on the music and not the people, although being able to read what music the crowd will like is an important part of my job. 

 

I was wondering if anyone else on the spectrum had social anxiety but found joy in something involving being in front of people (acting, music ect.)   I've had pdocs tell me that because I can get up in front of people doing one thing, it should be easy to be social in other aspects.  I really have found that this isn't the case, but I do keep trying to apply my DJing brain to other social situations. 

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"I've had pdocs tell me that because I can get up in front of people doing one thing, it should be easy to be social in other aspects."

 

 

The idiots.

At such times those of us on the spectrum are performing in our niches, and/or with roles that are well-defined, and quite often with us as the leaders/gate-keepers etc.  We tend to know  the rules and the scenarios in such settings, which are in any case familiar.

Something near being in a comfort zone.

 

Put us anywhere else, where there is nothing like such  a predefined set of rules...

(and if some have been written down there are usually still  plenty of unwritten ones to trip over)

...and where we have a shortage of the ability to pick these up by instinct or unconscious mirroring.

And if we work at that,to try to compensate, running at mental high alert we are likely to get exhausted,

and our effort to "fit in" can often get spotted and the effort misinterpreted as being "artificial", or "wearing a mask" which is mostly looked down upon.

(Catch 22 - "being ourselves", we know from numerous previous encounters, is likely be equally unacceptable, if not more so.)

We can't even assume,or guess, as the mainstream majority can with reasonable odds, that other people are thinking/feeling pretty much as we are.   (So the mainstream tends to guess us wrong, too.)

 

All good stuff.

Let's go and have a relaxing game of pogo-sticks in a minefield, instead.  

 

Chris.

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I am a part of that paradox.

 

 

I used to have crippling social anxiety, as well as very underdeveloped & misinterpreted social skills due to my spectrum disorder.

 

These days, I don't have nearly as much anxiety. I do have a little, as well as very odd & a bit more developed social skills, but when I am on stage with my guitar, or reciting poetry to an audience, I am not afflicted with either.

 

When I am on stage I am in my element. I control what goes & what doesn't go, as well as what is said & what is done. And as Chris said, we are performing what we love & what we know inside & out, to where the rules & roles are well defined. And that says it perfectly.

 

Granted, if something unexpected occurs I will most likely have an issue :P But how I react & handle that situation is usually more graceful than outside of that element.

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"And as Chris said, we are performing what we love & what we know inside & out, to where the rules & roles are well defined. And that says it perfectly."

 

This is true.  I spent at least a year practicing before I ever DJed on stage.  When I came back from a several year hiatus, I again took the time to practice for a few months before I got back into the proverbial ring and boxed.   I'm calm on stage but I also don't rate my performances well.  The last gig I did, I felt like I was a jittery mess but my peers (who are notoriously picky when it comes to what is and is not good DJing) told me that I played solidly.  I notice that I always have to tell myself to go with the flow and quit nitpicking or else I will sound terrible. 

Thanks for the replies.  I'm glad it isn't just me not working hard enough at things, but again I always have to remind myself that I simply operate differently.  It was much harder before I was diagnosed, because I was operating on an all or nothing mentality.  If "Contrary a-hole anti-social disorder" was an official diagnosis one could put on paper, the doctors I talked to when I was younger would have settled on that as a diagnosis.  Everyone was convinced that because I was good at some things (music, school) that I must be being lazy and defiant when it came to things I was terrible at,  Of course, now I struggle with the concept from both sides.  When I do great at something and exceed even my expectations of myself, I end up feeling down because I'm not awesome at everything.  When I do terribly, I doubt my skills even at things I have been told I'm good at. 
 

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"Everyone was convinced that because I was good at some things (music, school) that I must be being lazy and defiant when it came to things I was terrible at,  "

 

remarkably spiky ability profiles.  Absolutely normal for the autistic spectrum, but far less common in the majority, so not something that someone who has not been educated either by experience or formal training is likely to expect or understand.

 

Quite a few of us are very fluent in English on the computer but sound nothing like what we type, when faced (literally) with a live, spoken conversation.

 

"I end up feeling down because I'm not awesome at everything"

Oh, come on!  SUPERMAN isn't awesome at Kryptonite:  what standard are you holding yourself to?

 

Chris.

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"Oh, come on!  SUPERMAN isn't awesome at Kryptonite:  what standard are you holding yourself to?"

 

 

A totally unrealistic standard as I have come to find out from several years of therapy.  Growing up around very critical people turned me into a critical person, especially towards myself.  Years of being told my developmental disorder was just me being lazy didn't help. 

 

I'm getting better as I learn coping skills.  It took me a while to even admit that the problem wasn't just a character flaw.

 

I spent quite a bit of my childhood and adult life being silent.  Chat rooms and forums were the first thing that gave me a voice around other people.

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Years of being told my developmental disorder was just me being lazy didn't help. 

 

I'm getting better as I learn coping skills.  It took me a while to even admit that the problem wasn't just a character flaw.

 

I spent quite a bit of my childhood and adult life being silent.  Chat rooms and forums were the first thing that gave me a voice around other people.

 

 

Yes, buying into what you are told is difficult to avoid when you keep getting it from lots of directions, and you clearly *are* the one out of step.  (right datum, wrong inference, though, and that's ironically more likely to be spotted by the cool thought of someone on the autistic spectrum,)

 

Coping skills are good, taught and taken the right way.

 

"Social skills as social camouflage", for one, and "finding the right niches" for a second, as an extreme compression of my thinking. 

I am not "most people", so what are the odds that what "most people" like and want to do, etc.  will suit me?

Mind you I tried that through my teenage years and into my early twenties, convinced that "being normal" was the key to acceptance and happiness both.  Hmm.  Not quite.  "Are we having fun, yet?"

 

 

 

This is an old gem from an otherwise not at all terrible web piece on autism.

A couple of blind spots in the thinking of the"normal" scientist, perhaps?

 

"When healthy people watch a film of moving triangles and a circle, they often imagine that the objects have social relationships ("The big triangle is helping the little triangle out of the square."). When people with autism look at the same clip, they see independent objects. ("The small triangle and the large triangle are moving to the right. The square isn't moving.").  "

 

Regards, Chris

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I struggle with social anxiety.  I also worked in a sales position for three and a half years, and excelled.  I was terrible at first, it took me a while to "decode" a system of how to be a salesperson, but it's a system I've found useful in many other (non-socializing-with-friends) interactions because so much of it applies whether I'm "selling" myself to a potential landlord (YOU WANT ME AS YOUR TENANT) or if I'm the customer in a store (because now I recognize sales techniques and also I'm inwardly critiquing them.)

 

The thing was, the company was basically a HUGE special interest of mine since early high school and I really believe that's what carried me through.  I've tried to work sales and other customer service jobs before, and while I seem to have developed the "happy customer service persona" somewhere early down the line I do recall it took trial and error to get to that point as well.  Interacting with bosses and co-workers has always been much more of a struggle though again at my last job I learned a whole lot about how that kind of system works (it helps that they did, overall, treat me incredibly fairly.)

 

The salesperson and/or customer service personas though do not come very easily to me and require a lot of work.  It's also not something I'm terribly interested in putting up in order to engage in casual social interactions.  It's not that I expect the world to revolve around me and my needs, I just want more people to meet me halfway.  I have friends who accept my oddities, I've met many who have similar oddities or just unique ones of their own that make them  more open-minded, which has greatly helped.  Still.  New people and making new friends is incredibly difficult.

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  • 4 months later...

I can relate to this, I've been an aspergian presumably since I was born and a violinist since 5 years after that. I HATE crowds of people, talking to people, looking at people, being looked at by people, things that look like people, etc.
People in general just make me feel uncomfortable. But I've never felt more comfortable than when I was playing a violin solo in front of a couple hundred people. Usually that's a couple hundred too many for me to handle, but when I focus on my music I can just forget about them.

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  • 3 months later...

People are such ass-clowns.

 

"Performing in public" and "socializing with the public" are completely and entirely different entities. (As are the reasons people perform in the first place.) 

 

I worked in radio for about 10 years, and my anxiety (social and otherwise) was so bad that I'd have a panic attack when I heard the sound of someone opening the door to my prod studio. I learned that I had zero interest in the terror that I perceived the DJ's chair to be (ahhhhhh liiiiiive!!!!)... however I found that as long as the material was pre-recorded, I'd be willing to say or do pretty much anything. I just required the capacity to be able to edit before going to air.

 

Speeches in front of groups aren't too hard for me either - because there isn't really a social element. I have had time to prepare the words I want to say, no one will give me grief if I look down at my index cards, and any follow-up questions will be related to the presentation at hand rather than my random candid thoughts. Also, I think that performances where I'm "performing" the entire time (without too many lulls or breaks) are easier for me, because my brain has less time to generate scary thoughts. (Which is probably what's happening while you are intently focused on the music you are outputting.)

 

But social anxiety.................. jesus monte christo. I bet I could manage to perform a sold-out arena show in London before I could get through one personal "meet & greet" session without throwing up all over the fans. 

 

I get especially annoyed when people tell me I "don't have social anxiety" simply because I've learned how to be really good at socializing. Sometimes I try to explain to them that what they can't see are my heart and lungs freezing up in a catatonic state as I'm drowning in the neurochemicals inside of my head.... but usually I just clam up and withdraw inside myself instead because I don't have it in me to educate people like that. 

Edited by lostinthoughtandjaded
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