Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This Is How I Feel Sometimes

There's a reason I go by Sheldon Cooper on this blog and on Google +.

Even though I don't share his often arrogant attitude towards other people, I see a lot of myself in him, there's many habits that I have because of my mind and my (ahem) peculiar past that many people don't understand. One aspect of his life that I see so often in myself is his inability to understand and relate to people, and the frustration that accompanies that  For a good example of this, I'm linking to the CBS website, to an episode from his season called the "The 43 Peculiarity".

I regret that there's no way that I can post it directly to the blog, you must click the link, I can't find it on YouTube. In this episode, Howard and Raj can not figure out why Sheldon keeps going down to a storage room in the basement of the university that they work for during lunch hour for 20 minutes every day. They get into the storage room, and see a chalkboard with the number 43 in there, and some assorted items in storage, they keep trying to figure out what he is doing, and even go to the extreme of planting a web cam in the room to record during the lunch hour.

It's rather hilarious what he is actually doing down there, and I won't spoil the surprise, watch the episode, but in his frustration in their inability to leave him alone, and quit questioning about what he is doing in the basement room, he says something that really hits me, a feeling that I can really identify with, though some of his statement doesn't apply to me, and some of it you may not understand unless you are familiar with the character. Wait for the ads, the skip ahead to the 19:30 mark. Here's what he said, if you are unable to view the video for some reason:

"You may not realize it, but I have difficulty navigating everyday life. Understanding sarcasm, feigning interest in others, not talking about trains as much as I would like too.... It's exhausting, which is why, for 20 minutes a day, I like to go down to that room, turn my mind off, and do what I need to do to recharge" 

When I first saw that episode several weeks ago, that scene, and Sheldon's statement really spoke to me . Though I'm not arrogant like he can be (and I'm not obsessed with trains, either), I can identify in so many ways. It's hard for me to understand people in real life, tone of voice and body language are often little more than distractions to me, unlike most people, they don't add anything to the context of what someone is saying. If someone is saying something that is meant to be a joke or sarcasm of some sort, I may not always catch it, especially if as some of my co-workers who know me well like to do, say it with a flat, serious tone of voice and a straight face. That is absolutely frustrating as hell....

There's so many minor, unspoken rules in life that most people take for granted that I take me a long time to learn, if I can figure them out at all. It's frustrating to know that I've offended people somehow, and I don't have a damn clue why. One habit I found was frustrating people was my tendency to start pacing without even realizing it. People either find it confusing/distracting or get angry because they take it as a sign of impatience. I didn't know that for the longest time, and I couldn't figure out why people were being so hostile for what I thought was no apparent reason.

Sometimes, like Sheldon in that episode, I just want to be alone too and forget about the world for a moment, it's hard trying to constantly figure out people, and think through what most people do unconsciously, and deal with their expectations that I somehow automatically know the "proper" rules and habit of how people supposedly should act in the most minor, unimportant details of everyday life.

It's why I love the internet so much, people can't see me, and there's no additional subconscious additions to what people are saying, such as body language, and tone of voice, and emotional context.

It's just text, simple, glorious text, that stand on it's own, and speaks for itself. I can understand people, and they can understand me just fine, for once in my life, it's liberating. I think it's why I've had had little success I have had in blogging, finally, I can be me, and express myself in a way that people can understand and enjoy.

It's wonderful.....

(This is my way of showing my excitement, nothing shows celebration better than fireworks, right?) :) 


  1. As I get older life seems more about discovering/creating ways of operating in the world with as little maladaption as possible.

    1. I guess with age, most people mellow, and try to go along with what is going on around them.

      I have gotten better with time at figuring out what people consider "normal", but I'll never completely fit their ideas of normalcy, it just won't happen.

  2. I'm glad it won't happen! !!! I always get frustrated when someone talks about "normal", because there is no "normal" for me. I even go further and think the same of common sense, well that's me, another weirdo (I don't think I am one though).
    I "increasingly" like your blog, Sheldon! :-D I feel the same about the internet in many ways, for different reasons.
    Great, man! Loved it!!!!!

    1. Thanks.

      Everyone's definition of "normal" is different anyway.

      I had a professor once that warned against people using terms that could have different meanings for different people in their English class projects.

      One of the terms she used as an example was the word "normal". She said to people: "Show of hands, if it is 'normal' for anyone in this room to drive across three states to run 26 miles in the rain with several other people, and then drink a beer afterwards".

      Of course no one raised their hands, she was an avid marathon runner.

  3. I well understand the need to get away from the maddening crowd. Now that I'm retired and not forced into a daily routine and environment of socializing with co-workers, it's a pleasure to be able to pick and choose when to mix with outside world and when to be alone. The latter usually predominates.

    1. Hi, Secular Guy, thanks for stopping by.

      I can understand the need to be alone. Some people enjoy the free time of retirement, but some people, like my dad, just can't sit still, and have to have something to do all the time.

      I think that will be me when I'm at retirement age, unable to sit still.

  4. I can empathize with many of the things you've written. I too find all the unspoken rules of social etiquette baffling. "Reading" people and understanding their behavior has always been a challenge for me. It's frustrating when someone gets annoyed or ill at ease, and I have no idea what I've done to bring about that reaction. I'm sure that I'm not an Aspie, but social skills were never my strong suit.

    It's getting better as I age, though. I was very socially awkward as a child and teenager, but less so as a thirty-something adult.

    I wonder how and why all these unspoken rules of social etiquette were created. What purpose does it serve to make social interaction so complicated?

    1. "What purpose does it serve to make social interaction so complicated?"

      None at all. I've often found stock phrases like "How are you doing?" to make no sense.
      If you don't have the time to find out for real, or care, then why ask? Why make it a meaningless formality?

  5. Hi 'Sheldon'

    It sounds to me like you have Asperger's syndrome (which is certainly not helped by your schooling - if it is diagnosed early and a kid is taught coping mechanisms, they tend to have a much easier time of it in adult life). That said, after an extremely socially awkward childhood (and some might say, adulthood too:)) I have a soft spot for people who struggle to make sense of human interactions, and so I wanted to tell you about some Aspie writers you may enjoy:

    - Penelope Trunk. She writes so openly about her struggles in social situations, including the time she threw a party for her blog readers and ended up hiding from them in a broom cupboard. And yet she is so high-functioning.

    - There's a fantastic This American Life episode involving a man discovering - as a 30-someting married man - that he has Asperger's, and learning coping mechanisms for the first time. His wife realises for the first time that he is not trying to be uncaring; he just doesn't know what she is signalling with her behaviour. And she begins to teach him, rather than scold or cold-shoulder him. He writes it all down in a book, and over time learns to read other humans far better than before. His early book entries are really funny: things like "when my wife is singing along to the song on the radio, don't change the station".

    Hope you enjoy these!

    1. Thanks, Anon.

      I have heard of the Penelope Trunk blog before, I had read it before, but forgotten about it, guess I should add it to my blogroll to keep up with it.

    2. I don't know for sure if I am autistic, I haven't been to a psychiatrist, so I'm hesitant to say anything for sure.


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