Being versus Becoming


There was a discussion about how many of us ("high-functioning" autistic adults) had been a disappointment to our parents when we were children because we did not "stick with" any activity for long. I commented:

I think this may be related to the difference between those who "are" in large part what they do and those of us who simply are. That's a difference I've had to become aware of in order to understand some things about myself and why/how I tend to confuse other people. The purpose of doing many things is...well, not sure how to say it....

Okay, I'm going to lay out some over-generalizations here, simply because I can't think of any other way to get at what I'm trying to say. None of this is pointed at anyone (i.e., I do not mean to be "putting down" anyone or assigning anyone to a stereotype).

Some people "get into" learning/practicing/doing certain things because they see themselves becoming good and successful at those things. By becoming good and successful in that way, they will be becoming an identity in the social world, and becoming an identity in the social world is an important (possibly even crucially necessary) goal for them. The enjoyment they get from the chosen activity is likely to be generated in large part from the fact that doing the activity well helps them create/maintain an identity in the social world.

Other people enjoy learning/practicing/doing certain things because they enjoy learning/practicing/doing those things. They do not change their identity on the basis of what they do, and it may surprise them when/if other people start to relate to them on the basis of what they do.

Given that dfference (which I see, generally, as NTs [neurotypical, "normal" people] in the first case, ACs [Autistics and "Cousins," i.e., neurologically non-typical people] in the second), it is not surprising that the first group would tend to have a more long-term attachment to the chosen activity-of-success (because it provides the social identity they need). Whereas people in the second group might drop a successful activity at any time due to changing interests (and they can do so because, not feeling any need for a social identity, they don't need the activity to help them in that way).



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