I went to a bible study at my church that my church mentor, M, recommended to me. It’s specifically for women in their 20s. She put me in contact with the woman who runs it, and the woman hooked me up with the book they’re using. The book is called Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them.” Because I tend to see practically everyone else as “more normal” than I am, I thought the book would be a good one for me to read.
So I dove into the book, being 6 chapters behind the rest of the group. I mostly agreed with the author’s ideas, except for the chapter about reading people. It was one of the two chapters we were going to discuss at the meeting. The author suggested that those who are bad at reading people come across as rude, offensive, and uncaring. He said that no one wants to be around someone who is bad at reading people. I took offense to that. While I’m hopeless at reading people and their body language, I don’t think I’m almost ever rude or uncaring. I absolutely hate rudeness and I try really hard never, ever to be that way, to anyone. So I was frustrated at the prospect of being called rude. Maybe this guy had forgotten that some people truly can’t read people. It’s not always a choice.
I went to the meeting on Tuesday night and found myself there 15 minutes early. I like to be early everywhere so that I can adjust to my surroundings before everyone else gets there. It gave me a chance to talk with the woman who leads the group. Slowly, the other members of the group came in and started to talk. I could feel the confusion build, with multiple conversations happening at once. We sat in a circle, and everyone laughed and talked. I absolutely hated the feeling of being in the middle of a conversation without being able to follow it or participate.
I thought that once things settled down and focused on the book, it would be better. We went around and introduced ourselves. I said that I’m Lydia, and I love animals, especially cats. Everyone else did the same. I found out that the other girls all lived on their own and had “real” jobs (a nurse, a physician’s assistant, an accountant, and a teacher). I didn’t feel like I was somehow less than them, I just felt out of place, like we didn’t have much in common. As we got into the book, everyone stopped talking. I was hoping for a close-knit group that would want to discuss the deep topics in the book, but that’s not what I found. Instead, the more difficult the topics got, the quieter everyone became. No one wanted to open up.
I was frustrated. I would have been able to talk more about the stuff in the book because I had already planned my answers. But no one wanted to talk about that. I couldn’t participate in the social conversation, but that’s the only conversation there was. I spent the whole time sitting in silence.
The whole experience just reinforced how different I really am from my peers. I can’t keep up with them when it comes to work, social lives, boyfriends, husbands, conversation… I feel like I’m stuck in childhood or adolescence while they’ve all moved on to adulthood. I think I’ll go back to the group, but I definitely haven’t found my niche in the church yet. There’s a “ministry to the disabled” that meets twice a month that I’m looking into. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be for severely disabled adults or for people, well, like me. I’m working on finding out more about it. Maybe I’ll fit in better there.
11 thoughts on “Fitting In”
So, next time you go to the group, speak up. Mostly nobody likes to go first. Then you might just find you have more in common with people than you think you do. People just don’t like to admit sometimes that they are just as “off” as everyone else. They like weird things, they think weird things, they DO weird things, but because they are afraid they won’t look normal, they keep quiet about it. I say, be the brave one and tell people you still play with Barbie dolls. Who knows? It might just open the door for REAL conversation about stuff that matters.
I’m not autistic, but… aw. I’m genuinely sorry to hear this. I can’t tell you how much I admire people who work so hard to push back against their disabilities and live fulfilling lives.
Well, the only thing I can read from you is what you’ve posted (har har bad pun intended). But seeing that you do seem sincere in trying to not be rude, I don’t think the lack of being able to read people is the real problem in this situation. I’ve been in similar situations before, and that is when I tried joining a group (including a Bible study one, incidentally) but I was a new person meeting people who had already formed connections with each other. It’s hard to merge into that, especially at first, and even it they also want to be sincere in welcoming you.
But that’s just my take on it…
Isn’t rudeness more about the way something is received than its intent? You can still be plenty rude without meaning to be, and not understanding the situation is not an excuse for making someone else feel bad.
Anyway, book clubs are notoriously prone to gossiping and socializing. How stupid of other commenters here to insult the intelligence of the other women for choosing to engage in a social conversation.
When it comes to fitting in, you should find the people that you want to fit in with, not with who you think you’re supposed to fit in with.
Wether you’re accepted or not is whatever, but keep in mind you can bring awesome flavor to any group you’re apart of. Maybe these chickey babies didn’t talk about the parts of the book that you wanted to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t voice your opinion and bring who you are to the table.
Demand resprect woman!
I find that I have the same problem in groups. Perhaps you should try to find a group of people that you have more in common with. I’ve found that’s the problem with most of my friends and the groups of people I find myself in. I never have anything to talk about with them because my life is just so much different than theirs.
I’m 19, though, so maybe the problems are different when you’re older. I know that with my 3 year old daughter, my high ambition, my medical school intentions, my adult entertainment job, and my high IQ it’s damn near impossible for me to find anything to talk about with the average late-teen or early twenty-something female.
I’m not entirely sure how to overcome this, though (nor do I really have a strong desire to). I’m incredibly introverted so I’m just naturally inclined to be a little disconnected from the world.
Good luck, though! I hope you find some people to connect with! Don’t give up!
@aspergers2mom – Why is it that in situations such as this.. people consider the others “inferior” to the person voicing an experience. I feel like it is the norm to always build up people who are considered to have a disability by saying “you’re better than them.” well… no… not really. What makes the poster different than anyone else. What if every other person in the group also had answers and questions for discussion… yet none of them were TRUELY comfortable enough to express them?! Just becuase they have an easier time communing with others and conversing about every day topics.. does not make them any more inferior to anyone else.
On the flip side, I am not saying that the poster is inferior either. Though I don’t have autism, I too have a very difficult time in group settings, and enjoy deep conversations, but have trouble bringing them up if someone else doesn’t. If everyday life is all that is being discussed… I’ll make every attempt to go with the flow. Though, it’s often awkward as my generation talks alot about relationships, and sex, and drinking, and parties, and what not…. none of which I am, or have ever been, into. However, when I talk to people one on one, I usually find that they are also deep, just not in group settings.
You may be different from that group of peers, but, there are lots of us out there who stray from the norm. Keep looking. I wish you the best.
I find the most accepting people (and honestly, my closest truest friends) are from church. I may not be *like* the people there but I’ve become the go-to person for help with special needs. I even co-teach the children’s special needs class. The first church I tried was not autism-friendly. This one is! I feel accepted even if not the “same”. I know that another person at church is great at fundraising while another is terrible at it but awesome at getting groups together. Everybody has different talents, people know that mine are “different” and find unique value in that! Seriously, when somebody has a question about Autism, people go to me. You just have to find your niche.
@aspergers2mom – I agree with this 100%. You are much smarter than them – they dwell on the mundane because they can’t think outside the box or are too afraid (because of social pressure) to voice their opinions. You don’t feel as much social pressure, so you will voice your ideas.
I’m guilty of being exactly like those women in your Bible study group.
However, there is a deeper reason for it. I’m afraid to voice my opinions. I’m afraid that I will be rejected. I’m afraid that no one will care to listen. I’m afraid everyone will disagree. I’m afraid of being corrected. I’m getting better at sharing thoughts on deeper subjects, but it takes me some time. Though, if I had planned out answers like you said you had, I could participate a little better. I have a VERY difficult time when asked a tough/deep question point-blank though.
I’m going to venture to guess that these women might have similar issues. A lot of people are not willing to go deep. It’s a tough thing for people to do…it’s vulnerable. Many don’t like to be vulnerable.
God’s been calling me out on it though. He started showing me it was okay to be open about 9 months ago. It was kind of really crazy. Once I started sharing more, He started opening amazing doors…but, anyway..that doesn’t really have to do w/ this anymore!
I encourage you to pray for them, but also find a group that you can discuss and go deep in – that’s the only way growth happens!
The truth is, you are too smart for those women. They resorted to mundane topics probably because they had no idea what the deeper topics of the book happened to be. Which would you rather be? Someone who can’t read and understand the nuances of a novel or an airhead (remember book learning does not connote intellect, it just connotes the ability to repeat the information that they were spoon fed) who lives on their own and can only discuss the superficial? The time when you are on your own will come, and you will be the total package you wish to become. Meanwhile these women no matter how long they live on their own will always be shallow.