How Autism Works in My Favor – If You Can’t Be Remarkable, Be *This*

“Hunter, do you mind if I ask you a question?”

It’s not often that I’m surprised — not because I’m “good” at predictions or smart or whatever. I just spin my autistic gears enough to map out the spectrum of human variables, and by and large, people just don’t deviate enough from their norms to dot my radar as an outlier. And that’s good; sometimes my autism works in my favor.

But that question surprised me.

I’ve made an over-practiced art form of interviews – whether it’s for jobs or informational sessions. For the latter, I never expect people to ask questions of me. Like, I’m the one who’s looking to learn — what could possibly be worth asking about me? 

“Wow, uh, sure?” I said.

“Do you always wear clothing with your initials on it?” she asked.

I laughed and looked down: I’d been wearing my Helly Hansen® vest.

“As I’m fond of telling myself,” I replied, “if you can’t be remarkable, be memorable.”

I’m not remarkable. I can’t get by on skills alone. I’m really bad at a lot of things. If I talk without a pre-planned agenda in mind, I unspool after five minutes. I’m well outdone by many in terms of capability. I’m doing the best I can at the table being dealt a 7-9 offsuit hand.

But I can be memorable. 

Autism works in some oddly beneficial ways at times. We’re different out of the box. We’re going to sound different, use different words, think in strange and different ways. We’ll communicate in a way that won’t sound like others.

People remember different.

Since I stopped caring about fitting in, I’ve doubled down on fitting out. I grow out my hair out because it’s a conversation piece. My word choices and diction are unlike most others, to the point where I can’t write “example copy” anymore, because people know it’s mine. I have the coolest custom email alias at Apple. I wear my Helly Hansen® attire because people either recognize the brand or they think it’s because of my initials.

I’m not an autistic savant. No one is going to notice me for prodigious feats of memory, skill, or formidable intellect.

But I am different, and that’s memorable.

What’s memorable to you?

 

Oh, by the way: thank you for taking a few minutes to read this post. You could have spent that time doing something more enjoyable, but you chose to read this blog, and that means a lot. If you want to learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic – or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram. Thanks!

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