Divergent thinking and feeling ragey
“Self-advocacy, especially face to face is very difficult. We might write like Shakespeare, but we’re just plain shaky when speaking up for ourselves. She probably gets tongue-tied, angry, or cries. Thank god for typing! Real time self-defense is not our forte. She has to learn to self-advocate, but it will never be easy or second nature” (p. 66, Simone, 2012). This statement definitely resonated with me today, after attending an event and feeling particularly odd and out-of-place.
I went to a discussion forum today and found myself getting really frustrated with the speaker who was discussing women’s reproductive rights, although he was framing the issue in an incredibly anti-choice context. Oh dear readers, I’m socially liberal, but I’ll rarely discuss politics on the blog. I only mention this incident because it reminded me of how terrible my social filter becomes when I feel passionately about an issue and feel as if I have to speak up. I got shushed of all things, by some guy annoyingly enough who told me I was making him look bad as a fellow student. That just made me angrier, although in the moment, I mostly just felt like crying — got the sense that this was just one more social scenario I’d somehow managed to fuck up entirely (oh… lizard brain, calm thyself, you are not the cause of everyone else’s frustrations — it’s okay to speak your mind as a sometimes angry, third-wave feminist).
<———– So this is what happened, I felt as if I “tend[ed] to receive less tolerance and more expectations from others because [I] appear[ed] more adept” and yet I “hate injustice and hate to be misunderstood and this incit[ed] [an] anger and rage meltdown,” so I started to cry the minute I found some liberal friends who were standing on the opposite side of the room. The universe has a funny sense of humor: I wanted to sit by the door because I thought I might have to leave the forum early, and somehow, I ended up sitting at the Conservatives table. So inevitably, my socially liberal self was feeling a bit ragey by the middle of the event. I even joined a slow clap for funding early childhood education programs near the end of the discussion. That wasn’t awkward because I joined that contagion of hands asking for change, and then I honestly was beginning to give fewer fucks about what the Conservative dude trying to silence my awkward self was thinking. Although, I did apologize for making him feel uncomfortable after the event
— I know, half-hearted, “I’m sorry you were offended sort of non-apology,” but it was the best I could do at the time before I got to my friends and could freely sob for feeling so awkward – made it work the best I could at the time).
Well if nothing else, the experience reminded me that divergent thinking is useful. I joined a conversation between a group of retired educators, and realized that I wasn’t the only social liberal in the room. It was nice to talk with others about my passion for early childhood education (one of the topics discussed during the forum) and my own Aspergirl traits. They reminded me that, “We need divergent thinkers [like you, it seemed],” which at the time I found vaguely comforting. One of my friends who I saw on the way out also told me, “You don’t have to apologize for speaking up.” Sometimes when I feel like the oddest person in the room, I need these sorts of positive affirmations.
So on that note, thank you retired educators and friends for your kind words post-forum today.
References: Simone, R. (2012). 22 things a woman with Asperger’s syndrome wants her partner to know. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley.