Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No, I DON'T Regret It

Whoa! It's been four months since my last post. Sorry about that!

Everybody has regrets. I have regrets, too, most of them involving me not standing up for myself because I had reluctantly accepted that I was in the wrong concerning whatever social disaster I found myself in. However, that is not to say that there weren't times in my childhood/early adulthood when I DID stand up for myself and stick to my principles. In fact, I have a perfect example of when I stuck by my principles, to the befuddlement of a particular family member:
Like many girls with Asperger's Syndrome, I was (and AM) a tomboy. This means much more than the stereotypical, "Oh, she plays with trucks and likes sports. She's a tomboy." I always felt like I had a male brain in some ways (this feeling, too, is a common phenomenon among girls with AS). It was only natural, then, that I strongly disliked feminine clothing. I did not ask for clothes in the boys' section, but I did pick out clothes that one would consider gender neutral. When I was in middle school, my parents told me over and over that the bullying I experienced would stop and I would make friends if only I dressed differently. While my parents didn't force me to wear what I call "boob-neckline" shirts, they did bring up my clothing taste whenever I got into a conflict with somebody, be it a simple disagreement or outright bullying. 

No matter what my parents said (and it was painful and constantly resulted in my spending several hours on the phone with my feminist cousin), I stuck to my guns and wore what felt natural and comfortable on me. I refused to put on a costume. Today my parents realize they were wrong to try to force me into girly clothes, but I have talked to a particular family member who continues to be perplexed at my stubbornness (I call it strength!). As an example of a regret he feels about not taking his parents' advice, he talks about how his parents tried to get him to play a musical instrument. He didn't stick with musical lessons and his parents didn't try to make him. He regrets that they did not force him to. This is a classic case of apples and oranges. One involves trying to get their kid a hobby, and another is trying to get the kid to present themselves as something they're not, to lie to themselves and the world.

It is also important to realize that actions that are good for one kid are not good for another. Forcing me into music would have been not only a bad idea but also a pointless one as I developed several hobbies on my own without anybody's prodding. I was drawing and writing from a very early age, and in adolescence I grew interested in languages; I taught myself French I during the last three weeks of 9th grade so I could get into French II the following year. Forcing my relative to take music lessons might have been a good idea because he did not pursue hobbies as readily, let alone as intensely, as I.

Likewise, forcing someone, who feels she has a more masculine brain, to dress girly can be psychologically damaging. Why would that girl want to please the kids who bully her? That's answering to the bullies and affirming their behavior. Also, why would she even want people like that as friends? And no, this is not me as an adult critically dissecting it; I analyzed it intensely by the time I  was fourteen or fifteen. Prior to that, probably by the time I was about ten, I saw the blatant hypocrisy in the way adults would tell kids, "Just be yourself," when there were clearly hundreds of pages of fine print attached to that philosophy. Now, if there is a girl with Asperger's Syndrome who is feminine inside and wants to learn to dress like the other girls, then steering her in that direction is a good idea. 

So what did I tell my relative? No, I don't regret sticking by my principles. Why should I regret being true to myself and not blindly taking advice that hurt? I don't regret it, not in the slightest.

For the record, the bullying stopped when I finally had the guts to stand up to the bullies


  1. I haven't been formally diagnosed with AS yet, but am convinced I have it. I also have always had a "male" brain, but I look and dress like the all American girl. For instance, I'd be playing cars with the boy in a dress. I think this added to even more confusion, by looking at me people would think I should be prom queen, but I'm clueless to social interaction. Reading several Aspie blogs has given me so much insight into what's been "off." My mom also pushed for me to "fit in" and I believe it was very well meaning, but detrimental. She has Aspie traits, and I think she didn't want me to go through the same problems. However, her telling me to go against who I was , led to a sort of identity crisis. If I didn't have my rules and morals, I didn't have anything. Eventually, I tried to fit in, compromising myself. I broke the rules, basically with her blessing. I'm 33, so the diagnosis had barely come into existence at that time. My niece has it, and that is how Ive began researching it. Im trying to find a way to encourage her uniqueness, while minimizing her troubles; I don't want her to go through what I went through. I think adolescence is by far the worst time. Sorry for the rambling, I'm just coming to terms with the whole thing.

  2. That's a good guidence and all should help aspergers syndrome person as he/she needs care and love.So one should see to it that if Asperger's Syndrome who is feminine inside and wants to learn to dress like the other girls, then its good idea to steer her in that direction.