Please wait here while I head for the door




I'm so annoyed with myself sometimes. Not always and never in the planning stages. Just when things begin to come to fruition and there's a danger of making some progress - then I become annoying.

Why is it, when faced with any kind of imminent success my reaction is so often 'Eeek!' rather than 'Yay!'? Why should success, such a good thing, be a source of fear?

In my head, when making lots of plans, I visualise success and know that I'm working towards it. I relish the planning stage and love the anticipation. Rather like Christmas, I have a view of the end result, a hope for the outcome to be just as I imagined. And, also rather like Christmas, when it comes to the actual event, things are often less than perfect.

I think it's a pressure reaction, mainly. It's easy to plan and to imagine what might be, a little harder to put effort into making these things a reality. Then, having done all that, the actual success can inspire terror as it means you are suddenly at risk of becoming a real person, someone who has accomplished a task and may be held accountable for it.

You could be noticed and it may be remarked upon. You might find yourself the centre of attention. You may have to communicate with new people and carry on behaving like a fully-fledged person for longer than a few minutes.

More terrifying than all of this is the unspoken knowledge that being successful once means you should be successful again. If you did it this time, then you can do it again, can't you? You have finally proved yourself! Now you can toddle off and be a full member of society and do all the things normal people do.

Except that even just the hint of these expectations are enough to prevent any form of success from repeating itself. Worse, not only may it not be repeated, you might even work against that repetition, becoming the agent of your own destruction.

By breaking apart the very thing which has been successful, you ensure the pressure to continue being a success if pulled away and you can go back to being little old you with odd socks and a fridge full of sauces and nothing to add them to.

It is definitely a case of shooting yourself in the foot and is seriously annoying to those around you and to your own self, if you were being perfectly honest.

I mean, I know it's far preferable to be a success and do something right than always to be getting things wrong and making your usual mountains out of molehills. But by self-sabotaging you bring it all back to a manageable level and don't need to worry about being what other people expect.

It's rather like the reaction of many small children after their first day at school. Having done really well and enjoyed themselves, they can bask in the glow of praise from parents and teachers, deciding that this school business is okay. Then they discover they have to go every day. Every day! Over and over, still being good and doing as they are told, but now expected to behave well without being praised all the time too.

This is the shock of the normal world: do a thing well and you are praised, do it again and it becomes common-place and shouldn't need praise.

Mind you, it doesn't matter if you praise an aspie or not. In the end, the fact of having to repeat success is all that matters. It is the repetition of this success which is the problem more than other people's reaction to it. Please yourself if you want to praise me, I'm not denying I would enjoy it. But don't expect me to link that praise with the thing I am doing, so that it means I can do it again and again.

I'm never quite sure in my own mind whether it is the pressure of expectations that puts me off continuing with plans that turn out well, or if it is the element of repetition which galls me. I hate being noticed too much, but I also hate doing the same thing over and over (unless it's a time-wasting computer game, then it's fine).

It's almost as if I expect life to be one big garage sale, full of knick-knacks and old curiosities, all being sold at super-cheap prices, all there for the taking and with some gems to be found if you know where to look.

The minute you turn life into a glossy department store, where everything has its place and I have to earn proper money to buy anything, then my nerve goes running out the door with me close behind.

I don't want the smooth, repetitive trip through life with everything new and organised into sections. I would rather pick through, searching for what I want amongst a myriad collection of life's little ironies.

So, faced with success, expectation and the need to repeat them henceforward, I am annoyingly likely to give that pained, shame-faced grin and sidle to the nearest exit. Yes, it is a kind of sabotage, but life itself is sabotage if you don't know how to play it. And I am so wary of people's faces lighting up, delighted that finally I'm doing something right.

I'd much rather surprise them with occasional right-ness than set up false expectations of me having clicked into the right way of doing things, so that from now on I will be a successful, upstanding person who never needs pulling back out of the quick sand.

Having said all of that, readers, if I could be successful quietly, without any fuss and minimal face-lighting, then I might not backtrack so readily. If I could do it on my own terms, I might yet manage the department store scenario and not need to resort to garage sales all the time.

Sometimes, it would be nice to buy new, you know?

Amanda

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