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Why I Struggle Socially as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

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As someone on the autism spectrum, I never used to have issues with self-confidence. In fact, I thought pretty highly of myself for a while. I could talk about my life with ease and not worry about how others saw me. I didn’t care if was “unpopular” or lacked “style.” I enjoyed being me.

Not too long ago, however, something changed inside. I began to learn more about social skills. I began to understand other peoples’ comments about how I looked or acted. The world became this alien planet, where everything I did was judged, and it affected my life. I felt I was growing up.

The issue with understanding these social skills, however, is I still don’t know how to use them. I know talking about politics or religion can be a touchy subject, but I don’t know how to recognize how someone else feels about it. It’s easy to know I should be professional when I’m working — but how do I accomplish that? Is there something I should or shouldn’t say? Something I should or shouldn’t do?

All I know are the basics. Look people in the eyes when you are talking to them. Don’t go into too much detail when a stranger asks how you are doing. Use your manners. Smile and nod.

Just smile and nod, and don’t get in the way.

Oh, and every “general rule” has an exception depending on the situation. So all of those things I’ve learned in the past that I thought I could apply to new situations are pretty much useless.

When I thought I had my life together, everything just changed and seemed to fall apart. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I can understand that social skills are important. The problem is I still don’t really have many. And instead of letting ignorance be bliss, I have an issue with no idea how to solve it. Until I grow a little more, I feel lost in the alien world of social situations.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: December 28, 2016
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