Saturday, January 22, 2011

You Think You're So Perfect, Don't You??

This is so true- but was a tough lesson for me to learn!

What's wrong with being imperfect? Perfect wouldn't be perfect, would it? ...In case you really don't know....Nobody likes somebody like that -- somebody "perfect" would make everyone feel terribly flawed. So perfect is actually imperfect. If you are imperfect with plenty to improve and a motivation to steadily improve yourself, you're probably as perfect as possible."

I was the kind of kid who never did anything "wrong." You tell me a rule, and I would never break it. I had plenty of social faux-pas, still do, but I've always been a rule follower. I didn't drink before 21. I didn't drive before I had a permit. I never snuck out of my parents house. I never snuck into a club. I've never been high. I didn't go where I knew the kids were doing drugs. I've never skipped school. I had straight As.

I went to college free. I have a great job. And now, thanks to some image counseling early in my career, I'm good looking too so I appear to have it all.*

And I've always been the kind of person to go all-out and learn how to be the best in whatever sport/game/endeavor I'm currently focused on. So when you talk about art, I can reach back to my art phase and talk about my first prizes in art contests. You talk about writing, and I can talk about my published books. You talk about extreme sports, I can talk about skydiving, snowboarding, etc. You talk about third world, I can talk about living in Asia eating dinner picked off the trees outside. You talk about terrorism, I can talk about terrorist bomb that blew up my dad's office (good thing he was late that day) and the protesters camped outside my house during the war. You talk about Berlin, I can show you my piece of the wall. You talk about half the countries in existence, I can pull out my photo album and show you when I was there.

I can talk about all that. But I don’t.

Why? Because when I do so, people think I'm too perfect! Granted, I'm not all those things at once, and I'm really not even that awesome in real life but the fact I've lived in most continents and done more stuff in my lifetime than 10 people put together.

And you know what? People who are too perfect don't make friends. I have some friends I can talk about that stuff with, but not most of them.

I don't *truly* understand why but accept that the above quote is true. When you're around people who aren't as pretty, accomplished, "good," or experienced, they feel terribly flawed. Part of what I don't understand** is because at the same time, I'm looking at their ability to "read between the lines" and pick up on social cues that I don't see and *I'm* feeling terribly flawed.

But my flaws are different.

I’ve boiled it down to two ways that my interactions with people remind them of their flaws (which makes them not want to be around me):

1. By pointing out that I don't share certain of their flaws (no drinking, never smoked, never fornicated, etc) I am communicating to them that I think I am better them. This is not true. But this is what they "hear." They are wrong. But them being wrong doesn't matter. What matters is that they "hear" Paris think she is better than us.

2. By always having a story to match what they are talking about, I appear to be bragging. This is not my intent. But it doesn't matter. They don't hear, "Wow, I'm so excited to meet you- we have SO much in common!" What they "hear" is that Paris thinks she is better than me. Sometimes they "hear" Paris is so rude that she has no respect for me and my accomplishments!

Even now I have to be careful not to fall into old habits. When I say something and suddenly people stiffen up, they draw back from me, the "air" gets tense/uncomfortable, or the conversation starts to die down, I review what I've said to see if I’ve said something explosive or offensive. Then I look to see if it's appearing to them that I am trying to seem perfect. And if it looks like they are taking it to mean I think I am better than them, I throw in some sort of gentle fault and see if that perks things up.

I also try not to win all the time which is getting easier as I get older and not so good at the games anymore because I don't have time to practice! But still from time to time I get on a winning streak and when that happens, I purposefully punctuate that streak with losses.

I have more friends who are accepting of me than ever in my life, but the bottom line is, no one likes a know-it-all, and most people don't like to be around someone who gives off the impression that they are perfect.

Oh, to give credit where credit is due... I got that quote from this website today. I almost hate to admit I was doing this, but I was researching self-esteem. A comment on What Women Never Hear (I can't find it now) said you can't improve self-esteem and I was doing research on that. I actually think you can, and think I did. But am I just fooling myself? After all, when I get sad about myself I REALLY get sad. That's a whole 'nother post!

* Ha ha, as an aside, I wonder if the NTs reading this are saying, “boy this girl is too full of herself! I’m not going to read any more of this.” And, I wonder if the Aspies are saying, “She sounds like someone cool to know! I’m going to read more, then pick her brain to see what I can learn.”

** This is another one of those things that I, as an Aspie, don't understand. I just accept it and try to live with it.


Sheri said...

Thank you for sharing. Not an Aspie myself, but your post reminded me of a couple people I've known through the years. I hope that next time I run into them, I will have a bit more grace with thier ways of communicating and see it as their way of trying to connect. Keep up the good work, your honesty can help all of us be more tolerant of our unique personalities.

Anonymous said...

I just realized I could be an aspie. I get the same kinds of reactions from people at work, and sometimes other social situations. I keep quiet most of the time because I'm very cautious about what I might say to offend. The realization is almost stunning.

SavedAspie said...

Thank you both for your comments! Julian, I especially hope you will be able to find that balance between expressing yourself and being quiet for other people's sake. We're all a work in progress!

pierrot said...

very well written. will share it

SavedAspie said...

Thanks Pierrot