Journal: Reluctant Awakenings and Self-Doubt

Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2022 by Sri. Tagged JOURNAL

I have been having a tough time maintaining motivation on my projects, and noted that I'm at the beginning of a depressive spiral. While there are a lot of things on my mind, mainly I had beeing feeling like an alien outsider, at best tolerated if I don't inconvenience people and fill a slot in other people's needs, though these efforts are soon forgotten. Part of me knows that they are irrational and unhelpful thoughts, so the plan is to refocus the rest of the year on self-care over other projects.

There are several factors I believe have contributed to my current state of mind:

  • I feel my progress on Groundhog Day Resolution Goals has been very slow, and this has been the recurring pattern for the 15 years I've been doing it. The added stress of "needing" to succeed is creating strong doubt in myself.

  • It has dawned on me that my brain is a way more different than I thought, and that my efforts to understand people is not going to lead to an end-win where I finally feel like I'm part of a greater society with a place in it. This is not really a negative because there is a lot of diversity across people, but I have not fully embraced my differences and still desire a sense of affirmation and belonging.

  • Related to the brain differences is a growing frustration with the superficial nature of human social conventions, and that this is unlikely to go away because "I am the weird one" with "unrealistic expectations" of the world, demanding too much from people with my complicated conceptual modeling of the universe.

If you've been following my other recent posts here, you might see that there's a connection with my ADHD and ASD reading. After a couple months of reflection, I have made this conclusion:

  1. Yes there are parts of ADHD that seem describe the motivational difficulties.
  2. Yes I have traits that are associated with people on the autistic spectrum.

It took me some time to discern just how the clinical definitions of ADHD/ASD do not match the reported lived experience in terms that I could relate to. The issue I see with clinical definitions is that they are based on a "social intuition" that "normal" people have which I do not possess. My understanding of social norms is entirely constructed and self-aware, which is very powerful but also tends to alienate people who do not have this approach to life.

Thus, I suspect I am conflating the feeling of failing at my goals with a lack of normality, when this really shouldn't be the case. I started to feel a bit better when I came across a passage in Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity in the very last chapter. Silberman makes the analogy that neurodivergent people (i.e. autistic people) run a different "operating system" on their brains, like Windows versus Macintosh. Neither one is more valid than the other, though the majority user base has considerably more clout in declaring what is "normal" or "preferred"; there are simply more voices proclaiming this as so-called "fact".

[...] Not all the features of atypical human operating systems are bugs. By autistic standards, the "normal" brain is easily distractible, is obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail and routine.

Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes (p. 471)

OMG this sums up how I have been feeling, but didn't think I was being rational about it. Perhaps there is hope after all...I just need to figure out how to connect with all those other neurodivergent brains that are running a more compatible operating system.

And that will be the focus of the final (???) revamp of Groundhog Day Resolutions. Tomorrow I'll describe what changes I'll be making to take these new insights into account.


After mulling the above over for several days, I think the excitement of discovering that I wasn't alone in my thinking helped me feel better, but "seeking out more compatible brains" isn't markedly different than what I've tried to do before by looking for "positive-minded, self-empowered, etc" people.