When I was young I heard/read the repeated message that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, beauty is only skin deep, vanity is a sin, and base your self worth on your character, not what other people think about you. Okay,” I thought, “that makes sense.” And I did it. Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted people to think I was pretty at times, and I wanted to be well thought of by people I respected. But my self worth was just that: self worth not based on image, appearance, or anything anyone else thought of me.
But around me there were a lot of people who didn’t work that way. Focused so much on appearance and nothing else. They judged themselves based on how good they looked, they based their friends on if they kept up with trends, they judged me based on my lack of fashion. Why? Didn’t these people get the messages? The messages seemed so prevalent, how could they not hear them? And having heard them, how could they continue the way they were going? This is something I have struggled to understand for a long time. I’m in my early 30’s and I think I finally have an answer.
They’re neurotypical. And I’m not.
I wonder if those messages are so frequent and common because neurotypicals really do need to be reminded that much. Perhaps they are not internalizing the messages like I have been doing all my years. Maybe the thought of applying it to themselves doesn’t even occur to them. What if they don’t even realize what they’re doing?
But more than that, reading as much as I have been lately about how neurotypicals actually think, I think this is an extension of their vital need for social input. I think they must not be able to help it. It’s part of the neurotypical brain wiring to crave positive social feedback, and they will do what ever they have to to get it. They can’t help it; that’s just the way they are. And I have to accept that. I have to accept the fact that despite those messages (side note: where did the ideas come from if they’re not normal neurotypical ideas?!) that NTs are going to keep basing their judgements of other people on superficial things. And with NTs making up the majority of the population, this is how it’s going to be.
In high school, I rejected the veracity of my peer’s judgements/rejection of me. If I did not respect their opinion, and their opinion of me was bad, then it became a good thing. A badge of honor, to be hated by those with such poor understanding. Like a double negative being a positive in grammar. I was angry and hurt so I reveled in their scorn. I’m not a hurting teenager any more. And believing this now, understanding that they are so totally different than me and unable to do what I did as a child, I can stop judging them for needing so much social feedback.