Part Of Your (NT) World


“Ready to know what the people know. Ask ’em my questions and get some answers…”

When I was a very little girl, I used to watch Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” over and over again. I wanted to sing with Ariel over and over again.

I’m listening to “the” song right now. On repeat. Some things don’t change. In fact, if it wasn’t midnight and if my ninety-nine year old landlady upstairs wasn’t sleeping, annnnd if my wife wasn’t home, I’d probably dance around singing it at the top of my lungs. Okay, I don’t dance- but I’d still sing it. Aloud. Fair enough?

That song is my song. Think about it. Read the lyrics. You might know the words by heart but I want you to read it from the perspective of an adult. As an individual – no – not just an individual – a woman with Aspergers I have always wanted to be a part of your world.

I constantly think of new patterns. I have epiphanies practically once a week. Okay, okay, maybe about five times a week. That’s me. I love patterns and figuring things out. I love learning about social interaction.

I’m full of questions. I live in a state of wonder at times at the most simplest things. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I trust people quickly because I haven’t lost hope in people. I am in essence like a little kid still socially speaking. I so get excited when someone says “Hello”.

“You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty…”

You’d think I’d just won the lottery when someone has something in common with me. You like blue too? You like Seinfeld? You hate herring too? You like poetry? Okay, we’ll be best friends then. I’ll share my secrets and you’ll tell me yours. It’s so simple to me.

Unfortunately, that’s not how your world works. Everyone seems to have their own best friends already. I missed that stage. Maybe its because I went to twelve schools. I wasn’t me. I was the “new girl”. Interesting at first. Is she shy? Okay, never mind she’s just awkward.

Someone recently told me that if I don’t have best friends in my life, then it’s probably my fault. That I just need to change. They told me to just be myself. They told me to keep it simple.

My whole world flipped inside out and upside down. It was like they handed me a jigsaw puzzle that had missing pieces. This blog post isn’t going to end with an epiphany unfortunately.

I tried to change. I failed and cried. I tried again – and failed again. This cycle went on for months. I became so incredibly tired and so overwhelmed that I stopped talking to most people. I prayed and cried. I prayed again. I asked for signs. I asked for guidance. I asked for an answer.

Then I stopped trying to be like you so hard. Not because I have the answer. Not because I am now so confident that I don’t need friends. Not because they were necessarily wrong. Even though, I have lost my chance to be that person’s friend, I am simply who I am. I cannot change it. No medication will take the Autism away.

I will always be at least slightly anxious. I will always be just a little bit dramatic. I will always be overexcited about ridiculous things. It’s as simple as it gets right? We are who we are? I cannot expect the world to understand me. I cannot demand that people respect me. I can’t even make my pet fish like me.

I want the world to accept me for who I am. Will it happen? Maybe not in my lifetime no. But if I give up now – it’ll never happen. This doesn’t mean that everyone will understand that a hug means more than a thousand words to me. It doesn’t mean that everyone that I look up to will want to be my friend.

They are also entitled to be themselves and not “a list of what Gretchen wants in a friend”. They deserve the same respect and it’s easy to forget that when I want that best friend so badly. But you know, just like I used to wish that I had a big sister to protect me – sometimes not getting what you want is a good thing. It’s helping me to refocus and teaching me how to guard my heart just a little bit more.

Maybe the next time I meet someone I want to be friends with, instead of trying to figure them so much and investing so much time being the best friend I know how to be to them, I’ll just hold onto the hope that they say “Hello” and then let them lead the conversation.

People say I try too hard. Of course I do. Trust me, if I stopped trying, it wouldn’t fix this. Well, maybe it would for everyone else…

“But who cares? No big deal. I want more”

*I doubt that anyone needs any reminder but all quotes from this blog post are from the song “Part of Your World” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”

About Gretchen McIntire (formerly Leary)

I am 34 years old, I live in the Raleigh area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism, Music and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Part Of Your (NT) World

  1. Penny says:

    Hi Gretchen, reading your post made me think what a beautiful thing an open heart is, but that sometimes it can be difficult for the bearer too. Your post really moved me. thank you. penny x

  2. Gretchen, I was so touched by this. Riley and I used to watch Ariel, Sebastian, and all their friends over and over. It was our favorite shared movie, along with ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ I understand why this is your favorite song. Wanting to be like someone else, or wanting the world to see you differently, I found out a long time ago that doesn’t happen. You end up a faded xerox of someone you admire.

    Tell you what – I was a shy, shy girl (sexual abuse took all the wind out of me), but I found out I could sing, and I used to think that was me, and the only me. It took me to the age of 56, here and now, to realize that, if the world doesn’t “get” me, they can go eat dog poop. I mean it.

    The sooner we all learn to be ourselves and feel like that’s good enough, the better off we will be. And, to quote from “Toy Story,” you’ve got a friend in me! Love, Amy

  3. brian miller says:

    smiles….i like your honesty..and i will say that 5 years ago before working with auistic kids i probably would not have understood as much as i do…not intentional ignorance but…and i wonder how many fall into that category…we live in a culture as well that is not conducive to long term friends as well…so transient that who you hang with today may change in a month when they move away…

    i agree with amy in that we learn to become comfortable with ourselves….and let other become comfortable with us as well…we cant make em like us like you said…

    ps. did not see another post

    • Thank-you for checking. Glad it didn’t show up. It’s really hard for me to grasp the idea that people are not all like me – I get so incredibly excited at the thought of making a connection if I see it. Unfortunately, it is usually one sided.

  4. Bodhirose says:

    Gretchen this is so touching. You’re struggling with what so many of us struggle with and it has nothing to do with Aspergers…and believe me you wanting to be “normal” like all of us…well,
    “normal” people have challenges of their own of course! I do understand what you’re saying, though, and I’m not downplaying your very real issues. I was desperately shy as a child but unlike you, I didn’t try that hard to make connections…I was too darn shy to even do that! Even still, it’s a struggle at times. It seems to me that the biggest thing to accomplish in life is acceptance of who we are…it’s hard…but it sure will make life a bit easier if we can. I just felt such a warm feeling for you while reading this and if I was there I would give you a big hug!


  5. Simon Edgley says:

    Too many words I could choose, so please make do with just two: Thank you.

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