Wednesday, 15 February 2023

I Don't Fit Into This World

I don’t fit into this world. I never have, in so many ways.

Being autistic is of course a biggie. There’s the constant everyday jarring against the world, the sensory challenges, the social challenges, the practical challenges, especially if like me you also have executive dysfunction. It’s feeling like a square peg in a round-holed world. A world that doesn’t want me, and would sooner I didn’t exist.

But in turn I don’t value much of it either. I look at the hypocrisy, distorted attitudes, closed minds, hatred, injustices, oppression, prejudices and ‘isms’ everywhere, and I wonder how those people live with themselves. I look at the mess the world is in, and wonder if and when it’s going to all come crashing down. Environment-wise, I see that starting to happen already. I don’t have a lot of hope for the future, to be honest.

Being gay of course is yet another way I ‘don’t fit’ in. It’s more accepted now than it was, but there’s still the assumption that you’re straight unless you say otherwise. Even where there isn’t prejudice, we’re still in a tiny minority, out of synch with a relentlessly hetero world. And as an autistic, I never felt ‘in synch’ with other lesbians anyway. I have very little interaction with the lesbian community now. So I feel like I’m kind of out here on my own.

Then there’s being non-binary, and the pressure to ‘fit your gender’. My mother was a wonderful person, but to the day she died, she couldn’t grasp that I didn’t want to look or be ‘feminine’. Many others are the same. There is this expectation that you’re male or female, and sometimes desperate attempts to have you fit in to this binary, so they can treat you accordingly. But I don’t, and don’t want to either.

I’m also aromantic. When I finally stopped putting pressure on myself to enter into relationships, it was a huge relief. But most people seem to think that an intimate relationship is the only way to ‘happiness’ and ‘fulfilment’. I never found that. One of the few good parts about getting older is that people stop trying to match you up with others. I’m seen as ‘just another old person living alone’, rather than a pathetic loser who can’t get someone to love them.

Poverty is another way not to fit in. When you just can’t afford so much of what others have, the standard of living they assume as ‘normal’, you do feel out of it. This wasn’t how I assumed my life would go when I was younger. I don’t come from wealth or even the middle class, but there was an expectation of working hard, scrimping and saving, buying a modest house in the burbs, and Getting Ahead. It never happened. And it’s extremely unlikely it ever will. I’m out here on the margins, and it’s where I expect to stay.

Then there’s how I’m a thorough introvert in a very extrovert-dominated world. ‘Come out of your shell!’ ‘Why aren’t you talking?’ ‘You need to make more friends!’ And so on. How about just some peace and quiet? Is that really so much to ask? Other introverts will know of what I speak.

On top of these, there’s my various physical disabilities and illnesses, my CFS, arthritis, diabetes, wonky ankle, low thyroid… Whether I’ve had them for decades or acquired them more recently, they still serve to separate me from others.

These are the Big Things, but there are so many small ways I don’t fit in. Take drinks, for example. I’ve never liked coffee or tea, herb teas upset my stomach, and I’ve even given up coffee substitutes. Rest assured, I get plenty of fluids. But visiting people, I invariably get asked ‘would you like tea or coffee?’ As though these are the only possible choices. When I decline, they’re like ‘oh…. so... what do you drink then? Herb tea?’ They’re always puzzled when I say I prefer a nice cold water. (I don’t drink alcohol either.)

And take how I’m wanting to move back to the city, after many years away from it. There were reasons for leaving it, and good reasons to go back. But so many are wanting to move out of cities, it’s become almost a fashionable thing. I have news for them - the country isn’t as quiet as you’d think, and small town people aren’t always as friendly as city folks assume either. But the point here is that I am going against the tide. Again. 

And talking of housing, I’m also not into the current ‘tiny house’ thing. After decades of living in cramped spaces (poverty, remember?), I want more space, not less. I’m tired of things like having to edge sideways to get to the other side of my bed, or having to put away all my creative stuff in order to eat. Even exercise is problematic when there just isn’t enough ROOM. Enough. I want room to move, to live how I want, to do what I want. And I’m not going to get that in a tiny house.

I’m struggling to think of ways I do ‘go with the flow’, fit into the majority, etc. Being white is the obvious one. But I’m too aware of racism for a lot of white people either (I was in the NZ anti-racism movement back in the 80s). It’s similar with being a ‘Westerner’, and knowing the effects of imperialism, colonialism, etc, which most white people would rather not look at or even acknowledge. I can’t sympathise or identify with others solely on the basis of my European ancestry, even as I acknowledge the white privilege that goes with it.

There is a cumulative effect of course from all these differences. Most TV programs, ads, etc, even much of everyday life, leaves me feeling alienated, on edge, cynical, tired and disgusted, with a kind of existential pain and unfocused anger that I try very much not to burden others with. It’s not their fault that I’m different, but sometimes I wish they’d extend the same courtesy to me.

I don’t fit in, I know that I don’t fit in, that I’m an outsider wherever I go. But this is me. I can’t be anything else than what I am, I just wish sometimes that I wasn’t always the different one, in almost every category of humanity. I still have things to do, and people I care about, so I’m committed to staying on the planet, but it’s a daily trial.