Why is it that most people find it hard to accept when somebody looks or acts different?
I’ve been on the receiving end of prejudice, bullying and verbal abuse because I don’t “fit in”. I’m a person with Aspergers. I don’t think in quite the same way as a neurotypical (NT) person and I often don’t react in the way they’d expect. I don’t show much emotion. Some people seem to assume that because of this I don’t have feelings which isn’t true: I have feelings, I just don’t show feelings. So they keep pushing my buttons looking for a reaction. Do they not realise the hurt they can cause? I can’t understand their motivation. I tend to assume it’s accidental and they don’t realise what they’re doing because I literally can’t imagine that anybody would deliberately intend to upset someone.
I mentioned in a previous post that I can’t handle confrontation. I’ve been mocked because of this; called a wimp and so on. Now I’m not a small guy. I’m 5′ 11″ and 210 lbs, but I’m not saying that I could handle myself if I was attacked: I’ve got slow reactions and my coordination is poor. The one time I got attacked I was on the floor before I even knew what was happening. But how can people find fault with being peaceful? I’ve not got an aggressive nature at all: I’m quite passive. I remember when I played rugby the coach started pushing me about in the changing room before a match. I wondered why he was doing that, what had I done to deserve it? It was only later that somebody explained that he was trying to fire me up. But it didn’t work at all. I just stood there and took it, trying to figure out what was going on.
My appearance makes me stand out as well. I have long hair, usually tied back in a pony tail. I like to wear a hat. It’s usually a flat cap but I also have a black leather bush hat, a selection of Panamas and a Stetson (black). I don’t like to wear anything with writing or logos on it and I much prefer black. I prefer natural materials such as cotton and leather because they feel more comfortable. I will select an item of clothing based on how it feels ahead of how it looks. If it wasn’t for the fact that so much of my wardrobe is black I’d probably stand out even more: I really don’t care what I look like, it’s about utility. I get attached to certain items of clothing and wear them until they literally fall apart. I can’t even remember the last time I bought a new shirt, say, or a pair of jeans. Speaking of jeans, as a child I would never wear them. I found the material too stiff and rough, so I would always wear trousers. Naturally this made me stand out as all my contemporaries went around in jeans. They now produce jeans in softer kinds of denim so I invariably wear a pair of jeans (black) because they’re harder-wearing and don’t show marks as much (I tend to pick up marks on my clothes because I’m a little clumsy).
Behaviour and appearance: factors that make me stand out from the crowd. I know I sometimes attract attention because of this. I don’t try to; if anything I try to stay out on the fringes of things. Because along with the attention tends to come judgement and remarks or worse. I’ve got a theory that it’s a tribal mindset people have: the world is grouped into us and them. If you’re not one of us then you’re less than us. If you don’t look like us or act like us it means there’s something wrong with you. So we’ll persecute you. We’ll hound you until you give up and crawl away. This seems to be “normal” human nature. And it can lead to incidents like this murder of a woman for being “different”. At the time I occasionally heard people put the blame on her: “it wouldn’t have happened if she’d been normal”.
It’s absolutely pervasive. People band together based on what they have in common, whether it’s supporting a sports team, residing in a certain region, sharing a set of beliefs. They seem to unconsciously view anybody different, anybody outside their group, as a threat. I don’t fit in with any group. I’m me. Just me. Keep to myself, don’t bother anybody. So leave me out of your playground games: I’m not playing. I have no emotional need to feel part of a group. I do have an emotional need to be left to live my life in my own way. Respect that or just leave me the hell alone.
One thought on “What is Normal?”
Yes, I agree. It is definitely tribal. Some people are threatened by difference for whatever reason. Whether they pick on you to make themselves feel better or just because they aren't astute enough to work out their own issues, who knows.