Self-Consious or Self-Aware?


In May 1999, there was an online discussion in which an AS woman desribed herself as being "extremely self-conscious but utterly un-self-aware." A non-AS person asked her what the difference was between the two terms. At that point, I posted:

Here is another take on it. I "resonated" with __'s original statement, but of course I often find that my resonances are with my interpretation of what others write and may have little or nothing to do with what the writer meant. For me, __'s description means:

When I am in a group (worst case scenario: a party), I am extremely conscious of not knowing what to do, how/where to stand, what expression to (attempt to) impose on my face. I am very aware that I have no idea how to be part of the group and that I am excruciatingly uncomfortable. (Being sensorally assaulted, as is inevitable at almost any a social gathering, is another way of being self-conscious. It makes you conscious of all the bits that hurt, although the feeling may be experienced in a generalized form.)

On the other hand, when I am not in a state of acute self-consciousness (and maybe even when I am), I am so focused on particulars that I have no awareness of my self in many ways. I usually don't notice how I feel (physically or emotionally) in any detail at all, for example, until a specific feeling becomes acute, because I don't have any general monitoring function. At the point when a feeling becomes acute and forces itself on my attention, I have to stop and examine/analyze it in order to name/recognize it. This lack of monitoring function can be inconvenient when it keeps me from recognizing I am feeling sick until I am forced to realize I am about to fall down (or, on one occassion, that I am unable to breathe).

Nor do I have a general, on-going sense of how I am (or even that I am) in relation to other people. I so often am surprised by how people react to me, because I forget (or fail to realize to begin with) that they assume we are "in relation" simply because we are together. Also, I don't express myself in self-aware ways (e.g., I sound angry when I'm not). I am seen as talking inappropriately or at inappropriate times (e.g., talking "suddenly" to strangers, not talking at all to acquaintances), because I do not "monitor" how I am "supposed to" be/act according to outside circumstances -- another aspect of (lack of) self-awareness as (lack of) awareness-of-self-in-society.



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