Aspergers on the pressure to conform

Posted: December 10, 2012 in aspergers, life
Tags: , ,

I admire people who are able to be themselves and not care what everyone else thinks. I personally have always felt an enormous pressure to conform. Did it first come from the outside world or did it first come within I can’t tell you. When I was younger I used to go to Cub Scouts. At the time our Scout’s master always started and ended every session with a christian prayer. We even were made to watch a movie on Jesus Christ and his life. It made me feel extremely awkward being Jewish. I felt an enormous pressure to fit in and be like everyone else because one of my good friends at the time was part of the group. It felt like brainwashing and a cult. The group was also involved in other events that made me feel awkward such as selling christmas trees.

As well, at all the local malls there were always Santa Claus who handed out candy canes if you went to talk to them. What child is not excited about candy and therefore, I saw Santa Claus as this benevolent figure. There was no Jewish equivalent. No Jewish figure at the malls being generous to all the little children and wanting to know what they wanted for Chanukah. The seduction that this man would try and fulfill your wishes and bring you any toys you want as long as you are good is really hard to resist.

Since I had Aspergers my parents decided that I was going to go into the English immersion program at the local school instead of the Hebrew one. Which makes logical sense, why make it any harder for your child when he already has enough struggles. In my class they taught us christmas songs and everyone was constantly talking about their christmas plans. I remember once talking to my classmate and pretending that I too had a christmas/ Chanukah tree, which only made me feel left out and ashamed.

Having Aspergers and the physical challenges that go with it I often played hockey on a team of younger people. Once when we were getting destroyed by another team the coach told a player don’t worry they are all 12-year-olds on the other team and therefore there was nothing to be upset about. At the time I was 12 and I was probably the weakest player on the team, therefore, I felt tremendous shame.

In addition, whenever we learnt about a person with disability in schools we always learnt about their challenges and if any strengths were mentioned, they were mentioned as an aside in a way that felt less than genuine. This may have been my personal spin on the information what they were trying to convey, nevertheless, a person would come out of those classes and feel sympathy or empathy. Those poor guys, “so brave” and oh so “patient” it made you come out of there glad you were not blind or disabled.

No wonder, I always tried so hard to conform and be like everyone else. Yet, every time I ended up falling short, because I am not like everyone else I have Aspergers and instead of celebrating my differences and what makes me unique I focused on how I fell short of my perception of what it was like to be everyone else which only left me feeling depressed and bitter.

  1. Life&Ink says:

    I am sorry all that happened to you. It is painful to me to think of someone being made to feel left out. It just seems contrary to the way it should be. But alas, I am an idealist! You probably have gathered that from me already! And on a side note, I chuckled a bit as I read your post. The reason being your struggles trying to fit in at school being Jewish and I grew up, not Jewish going to a Jewish school. I sure loved the month of September though. Oh my, lots of 4 day weeks and I didn’t have to spend the day off from school in Temple like my classmates did! 🙂

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