It happens like this. One day I ran into someone at a gas station that I had not seen for a while. It was nice to see them and I enjoyed seeing them. However, as I drove away, an old familiar though process kicked in. —
- Did I say the right things?
- Did I forget to say something?
- Should I have extended my hand for a friendly handshake?
- Should I have given a quick hug?
- Did I look at the person’s face enough?
- Did I look at their face too much?
- Did my eyes dart around too much and make them uncomfortable?
- Boy, I sure hope that they enjoyed talking with me.
- And so on…
This is the burden that I seem to have to bear during, and after, nearly every social interaction that I have with people. I feel so out of place, like a fish out of water.
Even though people should understand that my social skills will be spotty because I am Autistic, I rarely come away from social interactions without second guessing myself.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to feel like I am totally getting these things right. Please know that I am concerned about doing the right things. Please know that I really do enjoy catching up with my friends. Please don’t ever get the idea that I don’t like you if you see me being awkward, or uncomfortable, during any social encounter. I really do like talking with you even if I am not that good at it. I am friendly even if it doesn’t’ always seem readily apparent.
Thank you for your understanding of my Autistic social anxieties. Please remember that I am trying hard to do the right things. My mind is racing behind the conversation to come up with the right words. Please allow me a little extra time to process my thoughts. Please know that I value your time, attention, and friendship.