Boring is a Great Privilege

If I were a drink, I’d be tap water served eerie still, unshaken and not stirred. As a cereal, I could ‘outbran’ bran. And as ice cream, I’m the kind you get when “Plain Vanilla” just seems a little too adventurous.

I’m a boring guy.

I eat dinner earlier at a time where even senior citizens would make fun of me. I prefer muted colors. The hardest thing I’ve had to drink was Mike’s Hard Water® from my shower. I haven’t had a birthday party since age 8. The last time I went out after dark was to check the mail.

I’m boring autistic.

So not only am I boring, I’m an autistic boring. Even among autistic advocates: I’m not “hip,” I don’t have cool multicolored hair, and I still think “vibe” is a noun and not a verb.

I’m old, I’m a homeowner, I’m a dad, and I have a job and career I’ve held for over a decade. And I’m autistic. That doesn’t really connect with a lot of the autistic audience who is younger, still finding their way around themselves, their lives, their present and future. Of course you “vibe” with someone more like you, only cooler. Not “less like you” and “way uncooler.”

But that’s not every autistic audience. That’s not every autistic advocate and ally.

Some groups, companies, organizations: they’re boring too. They’ll nod inside when you bring up autism advocacy, but they’ll recoil as soon as they see a visible face piercing. They’ll say they embrace and support autistic initiatives, but whoo boy hold on, not if it means, you know, “having weird colored hair.”

It’s not bad to be boring. It can be bad to want boring.

Boring is my privilege.

For all the uphill traction that genuine, authentic, “weird,” hip, and otherwise non-boring autistic advocates would face in the boring bastions — I don’t face that. I love that many passionate autism allies are authentically themselves, acerbic, and colorful, and dedicated their voices to bettering neurodivergent lives.

It’s a shame that many more boring places and spaces aren’t ready to embrace you.

But they embrace me. They see my straight laces, my straight edges. They think, “Well, he looks like a put together young man with a well-tended rolodex. THIS is the kind of autistic advocacy we can tolerate.”

Boring privilege is my weapon.

Because guess what they hear as soon as they make the mistake of letting me in the lobby? Of thinking that my plainer-than-vanilla, more-boring-than-bran veneer would somehow let them off the hook? Of assuming that I’ll have “more institutionally friendly” autism guidance fit for people who wear collared shirts?

EVERYTHING YOU WONDERFUL, WILD, ANTI-MILD AUTISM ADVOCATES AND ALLIES WOULD TELL THEM.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram.

Oh, latest episode! Enjoy.

What You Tell Yourself at Day’s End

Memory is a scheming demon. A strange and warped aperture, altogether tinted more in dolorous hues, monochromes, quicker to drain itself of color and hollow itself down to dampened bark and snuff out the obvious verdure.

There are many hard days in autism.

And coupled with hypercriticality, hyperintrospection, and a whopping dose of imbalance toward scathing self-talk and distorted reflection — we often misremember every single day as a hard one.

I know I do.

It doesn’t take much for my mental oxen, resolute and routine creatures, to be veered into a ditch—cart, goods, wheels, and all—at the slightest daily shakeup, misconstrued feedback, tonal ambiguity, cloudy days, sleeping in 4 minutes late.

And there we are, up from the shallow crevasse I peek, hearing those horned beasts low confused, grimacing at skidded furrows as far as the eye can see. Never mind the many days in which the path was narrow, trod firm and straight.

Don’t mistake me for an optimist: there’s a lot of ‘not good.’

But I’ve become better at mental optometry: there’s a lot of ‘not bad’ either. I’m getting better at this in my old age.

Seeing others succeed where I do not: these are not the slights they used to be. Furiosity and frustrations within my orbit: these are not always intended for me. A bad morning-afternoon-evening: these are just the days that feel longer. They are not longer.

Thus far, at each day’s closing bell, whether it took a minute or a millennium, I realize I can tell myself this one thing.

“I did make it through this day.

It’s one of the harder things in the moment for us autistic people. I’ve had ‘patently normal days’ where minor subterranean quakes to routine foundations send pain up my spine and attack with exclamation pointed PANIC! Honestly, I still get derailed by the dumbest things too.

But thus far, I’ve made it through every day. Maybe not always at 100%, and sometimes perilously close to 0%, but I have made it through 100% of my days on this terrestrial plane.

I’m hoping to start working on my long memory here with this. To etch even the simplest day’s successes in stone. Notch those rocks.

And though my autistic critical self often wills the iron quill, I should more so scribble and write off the bad days in the inky puddle, where I’ll reminisce far less, remembering that there bad days I’ve penned away here.

But they don’t compare to even the milder days, where I survived and did much better.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram.

Oh, psst, hey, if you missed my latest video, come check it out! I promise it’s worth thirteen minutes of your day – or else you can have your money back:

What It’s Like to Kiss the Sun

You’re probably familiar with my one confession.

I’m actually quite good with interviews.

Almost a year ago, I recounted a bit of an experience where I essentially scaled a wall of five rounds of interviews and beat out a couple hundred candidates. Except one. I’ve made an art of getting as close to victories without being able to take them.

So off I fell that wall, back slamming to the ground and heaving the wind out of me. I was sore in defeat, but over time I found what it was to be resolute.

While I’m not sure how neurotypicals do it, my “autistic strategy” is cycling back into routine deep enough to where I can counteract my other autistic routine of self-talk-immolation: where I don’t revisit the regret and rethink what I should have done, but rather unknowingly dig myself into the futures where I’ve failed.

This past year, I scaled the wall again.

In my career, I tend to balance contentment with opportunism, better recently now. So when an interesting opportunity opened up, I grabbed my hat and tossed it into the ring.

What I didn’t realize was that it’d set off a four month crusade, one in which I’d be contending against several hundred applicants. Without getting too far into the specifics, each meeting carried its little share of joys, reassurances, delights. You know, those little things and answers that make even a pessimist (me!) feel like this was it. These were the doors.

One by one they opened. Different scenarios and tracks made this more and more the right kind of opportunity for H2’s next adventure. This wall took me to greater heights.

Ten interviews total. Talk about putting skills into practice! After that point, I feel like they’d have been sick of me. I even lowkey disclosed my autism! That was a huge first.

But throughout this entire excursion, the many rounds, the many faces, for once I felt peace throughout. No major worries. No gut-wrenching concerns. My autistic-tinged skills and prep seemed to be delivering “the big one” for once.

After the ten interviews, we waited.

And waited.

I was not selected.

In my soul I nodded. My fingers let go that same wall, where I’d climbed twice as high as last year. I felt indeed I had kissed the sun and watched it shrink as backwards I fell, bracing my back for that same impact, only more intense, that same breathless feeling of the wind being rushed out of my lungs.

I have made an art of this.

I’ve snapped back, not from being fitter in my old age, but from understanding what it’s like to come this close. Again. These heights are terra firma. I was sad with the heaviness of this long journey that concluded in similar end. And that is OK.

I thought about the comedy of it all, how I have indeed come far, yet feeling it is not far enough. How my interesting path isn’t so much progress, but merely making a long and winding journey of it. How I’m learning that not every good path is the right path.

I thought about my daughters. How we’re ever going to cram them all into one room. Where I’m likely going to have to uproot this office, the place where the journeys begin, and bury it in my basement, like an object lesson — where once this little alcove kissed the sun, but cannot keep trying to climb to such forever. The mounting needs, my futility in expanding the borders, many daunting possibilities.

We don’t quit yet.

For all my prognostication, the hopes were never as I wrote them.

We kissed the sun, fell back to Earth, where that beaming star looks dimmer. But only until the dust settles, when I shake the rest of it off, fix my hair, grab a coffee, and look forward to the next hill — where I’ll aim to do more than touch the light, but find it embracing me back.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.

Hey, I might not be good at “getting jobs” apparently, but y’know, I interview a lot. These tips may help. And if they don’t, they’re worth a laugh: