The holidays create stress for many people. I find myself exhausted from the activities and socialization. When I have had too much stimulation, I sleep or withdraw on my days off. I don’t want to socialize with anyone. I don’t want to go anywhere. I find myself stimming to relax, if I do have to be around people.

I overthink most things. Lately, I worry about the expectations of other people. Maybe everyone does that around the holidays when visiting loved ones they haven’t seen in awhile. Sometimes I feel like I’m faking it, or pretending to be someone I’m not, to appease the expectations of others. Sometimes it is just easier than being yourself than hearing their disapproving opinion of you. When I’m overstimulated or tired, I find myself giving my opinion more often, while true, it’s not always helpful. I don’t want to hurt or offend anyone, so sometimes I think it is easier to make meetings brief and superficial. I have to remind myself to smile and make small talk because that’s what most people are accustomed to and expect. But after several days of giving people what I suppose they want or expect, I need down time to be myself and stop pretending.

The concept of whether or not to disclose to family and those close to us about having a social disability is a difficult subject. Perhaps it is easier for people to believe you’re someone you’re not instead of learning about a disorder… that the real you is a complicated, over sensitive, complex creature that requires making adjustments in order to accommodate you. But there is a part of me that thinks there would be less misunderstandings, when I fail to maintain the false image they have assigned to me, if they knew the truth. So far, however, people knowing I probably have (unofficially diagnosed) Aspergers has had mixed reactions. Some people know I am trying very hard to give them what they want, but they still cannot help but feel disappointed that I can’t be what they expect me to be. Some people don’t care and ignore me and forget about my deficits, leading to misunderstandings and anger. I can keep reminding them, and I appreciate their understanding and forgiveness. However, I am not sure the rest of the people in my world would be as accommodating. Also, I am not always equipped to understand what the problem is and why the other person is angry or disappointed with me. In this case, it would be ideal if that person understood me more because they might be quicker to forgive and not get upset. I care about people. I want them to get what they want from me. Appreciation, small talk, smiles, gifts, a well-groomed fashionable appearance, flattery, whatever it is… And I can force myself to do those things, sometimes. But I just wonder if I might one day be able to create a world where I don’t have to pretend in order to give people what is expected, and I can just exist and be accepted the way I am.

Where do you draw the line between people pleasing for their comfort and being yourself for your comfort? Will people still understand that you love them when you stop trying to live up to their expectations?


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