Spunky Kitty is writing today, because the BunnyHopscotch is too tired to articulate anything. This post is about the confusing phenomenon of “competition,” so deliriously practised by the neurotypical world (and some Aspies too).
One neurotypical tenet that I find extremely difficult to understand or appreciate is competition. I am just not a competitive person. Sure, I want to know where I stand in the general state of affairs, I need to know if I am falling behind in my work, just getting on, or slightly ahead etc. But these are merely measurements, and details of place and position. To me, that is about as ‘competitive’ as I want to be, i.e. knowing where I was, where I am now and where I need to go hereafter.
It hurts, therefore, when family members and/or friends indulge in competitive behaviour that to me seems downright cruel and vicious. A favourite indulgence is putting me down in order to look better, while on my part, I want to rejoice in differences and the variety of achievements that being different may bring. If I can be happy for you in your different achievements, why is it that the neurotypical sibling, parent and friends find it so hard to be happy for me when I achieve something, especially if I achieve it despite my perceived failings? I have no answers to that, I am not neurotypical and here is one huge instance where I am unable to empathise. Some ‘professionals’ tell me this is called ‘jealousy’ – yes, I understand the meaning of the word, but to my mind, I would only be jealous of someone who is far more advantaged than I am, perhaps? I fail to see why anyone would be jealous of me, especially if they are the ones far more advantaged? I am poor, I live on $10 a day. I have a painful autoimmune condition, I have battled crippling pain all my life, which has held me back from a huge number of activities and potential achievements, and I continue to battle pain on a daily basis. I am autistic, and although I do not view my autism as a disability per se, when juxtaposed with the general world, autism rubs against the surfaces in some disadvantageous ways. Whereas they are physically strong, financially secure, they own more than one property, they buy fancy cars (check out the prices of cars in my home country, your mind will be bedazzled and be-boggled!), they have good jobs and other sources of income… the list goes on. So, bravo to them, and I am happy for them, but then, why me? Why be jealous of me? It cannot be. If not, then what is the reason for this cruel competitive spirit?
This is not an uncommon scenario in the life of many an autistic person struggling to survive in a neurotypical world: A family member achieves something laudable. we are happy for the person. Yet, in the proud boastings and flutterings that follow, they never fail to make comparisons with us, and even twist the truth such that we are once again the ‘losers’ – in a competition that we never entered. In my case, this has happened in all my so-called milestone achievements, and theirs.
Currently, the word is out that universities where I am now are tossing off PhD scholarships willy-nilly, because the institutions are somehow overflowing with so much money that any idiot can clinch a scholarship. Especially in the arts. Whereas, there exists no scholarships whatsoever in the field of medicine in my home country. This is, of course, untrue – anyone can do a Google search to find a scholarship in any field, anywhere in the world. The only people who can be fooled are the deliberately ignorant, or completely uneducated. Hence, by their flawed reasoning, it is all the more miraculous and a reflection of their superior abilities, to just gain a place to read medicine in the country’s ‘best’ university.
These are educated people, not folks in the lowest rung of the socio-economic pecking order. Yet, they resort to such preposterous and illogical actions, and for what ends? Am I perceived as such a threat, that they should insult their own intelligences in order to push me further down the gutters of their florid imaginations, even though I am assiduously trying to distance myself from them?
In one of my papers, I wrote:
Coming face to face with autism is about confronting Difference: as a result, our existence presents an uncomfortable threat to the neurotypical social culture that leans towards uniformity, conformity, and ‘sameness.’
You can run, but you can’t hide. I have been running away from that part of upper middle class educated right wing religious familial bliss for years now, but it seems they find ways to reach me nevertheless. Will the connection ever be severed? Will they ever stop talking about me as if I mattered at all? I hope and I long for the day. I don’t want to matter to people in this terrible way. I’d rather they forget my existence. However, I know, in the neurotypical social psyche, this is a difficult task indeed, to remain literal, factual and not excessively focused to the point of obsession on social-based constructs to make them feel good about themselves. Feel good because you have got through the day. Give thanks that you can do the things that you want and love to do. Life is short, keep it simple and directed towards finishing your journey in the fullest possible way. True, but I have come to realise, upon analysing the neurotypical mindset, that the means to the end differ greatly. C’est la vie.