— if I like something, that means it’s boring
— if I like something, that means it’s silly and juvenile
— if I like something, that means no one else will like it
— if I like something, that means it’s gross and wrong
— if I get excited about something, it means I’m a boring nerd who cares too much about pointless things
— if I get excited about something, it means I’m showing what an uncool newb I am and ruining things for the cool people who are real fans of that thing
— if I get excited about something, it means that I’m too much, too intense, making people uncomfortable
— if I get excited about something, that makes me gross and wrong
— I don’t deserve to have things that are exciting
— I don’t deserve to have things that are cool
— nothing I can do is exciting
— nothing I can do is interesting or cool
— nothing I can do would be appreciated by anyone else
I’ve been thinking lately about stimming and ways that I suppress it, and it occurred to me that it isn’t really the whole story to say that the avoidant way I sometimes react to positive, exciting things is just about “suppressing stimming”. It’s partly that, but that’s not all.
It’s partly about resisting the urge to happy-stim in public.
It’s partly about resisting the urge to show happiness in any way in public, even just to smile or laugh, because it might not be an appropriate situation to be happy in, and/or people might want to know what I’m smiling about, and that’s a fraught question. That’s where some of the above jerkbrain-assumptions come in.
But what it’s all added up to, over the years, is a really deep assumption that cool things are not for me, and things I like are not cool.
The second part of that– the stress and anxiety I feel about telling people about my interests– is something I’ve thought a lot about, and I feel like I understand it pretty clearly. And I’ve thought a lot about how secretive I often was when I was younger, about pursuing things that interested me.
But I hadn’t really realized until now the extent to which I’ve pushed myself away from ever learning about things I liked, things I thought were exciting and cool, out of this knee-jerk assumption that there’s no way I could ever actually have them and enjoy them. Instead of taking feelings of excitement and interest as a reason to find out more about a thing, I often did my very best to crush those feelings, avoid the thing in question, and never admit to anyone that I was interested in it.
What brought this into focus was an exercise routine I tried out a few weeks ago. It included some punches and kicks. I was working my way through the routine, and I thought to myself, “I feel like I’m getting the hang of this and doing it correctly. It feels good. I feel kind of cool and tough, punching things.”
And part of my brain immediately went “No no no, nothing you can do is cool, if you think so you’re wrong, and if you show anyone else they’ll hate you. Go ahead and do the exercises, but don’t enjoy it. Don’t feel strong. Don’t feel like you could ever be cool.”
Like, I was completely alone in my own house, and part of my brain didn’t even want me to feel happy in total privacy because that was too close to showing off for people who might disapprove. Come on, brain.