This wasn't specifically inspired by this recent day log, but it did get me started thinking about something that has been building for a while. Also, about something I can talk about here in a manner I couldn't on social media: the spread of "nueurodivergent" as an identity. I also apologize for the quotation marks, but I used them purposely: this is about the adaptation of "somewhere on the spectrum" as a simple phrase with its own connotations, not simply about being on the Autism spectrum.

First, a little history, not at all objective, but just as I have seen things developed, as a person born in 1979. When I was a child, the word "autistic" and the concept were unknown. Of course, I was a kid, but even most adults were probably not that familiar with the idea---and it was probably the 1988 movie Rainman that brought the idea of autism into the public consciousness. But that movie featured an autistic character who was almost totally non-verbal and also a genius card counter-- and that was what autism was in the public consciousness, until sometime later in the century I started hearing about Asperger's Syndrome, at which point an entirely different stereotype started coming to the fore. Kids (and they were kids) with Asperger's were obsessive nerds with little social skills. They were also usually boys or young men with technological hobbies. It was still a pejorative stereotype, and the idea was that people with Asperger's were abrasive, unconcerned with others, and that it was difficult to have any real communication with them. And then, sometime in the social media era, the perception changed again. "Nuerodivergence", which included the autism spectrum, ADHD, OCD and a number of other conditions, was now a sign of creativity and lateral thinking. People with these conditions were outside of normal thought molds and could be more critical of society and truer to their authentic selves because their mental processes allowed them to perceive things others couldn't. It became almost a piece of flare.

So that is the abbreviated history. But let me talk about myself. Including some things you might already know and guess about me! Like how much I like trains and comic books. Pretty obvious on here, I often write minutiae about things like that. I do like the sense of peace and order that comes from symmetrical information. A bit about my personal life: since I was a child, I have always had foods I loathed, that I could literally not stand, and while as an adult I have opened up a bit, I will still gag in disgust if I accidentally eat even a bit of banana. I have severe texture issues with certain foods. I also have certain things I do whenever I go out---even for a stroll around the block, I will usually carry my phone, my wallet, a pair of dice and a camera. And additionally, I am often introverted, like to be alone, and enjoy reading and being in nature.

So we can add those things up and perhaps we are about to have me come out of the closet, so to speak. Am I about to announce my neurodivergence? When I first heard about autism as a child, it in no way fit me. Even 20 years ago, when it was applied to people who were functional and not communicative, it didn't seem to fit me at all. But the way it is talked about now, maybe I do fit the definition? My answer to that is that currently, the definition is so broad, I don't see how it fits me. I mean, at least not more than it fits anyone. If "Would rather do their taxes than binge watch Netflix" becomes the definition of neurotypical, it is hard to imagine what neurotypical means, anymore. And for me personally, despite having some quirks and getting lost in my head, I also have traits that are quite opposite: I often like noise and bustle, and need change and stress. One of the reasons why I like schedules and routines is it allows me the structure to test myself. My job is talking to strangers, from around the world, who are not native speakers of English. I often have to figure out how to relate emotionally and communicate with a stranger from a different culture (and sometimes an antagonistic culture) in a minute or two, and how to use my voice and face to carry that forward. The amount to which I need to do that makes me think that if I am "Somewhere on the spectrum", it is on the other edge, as a person who finds communicating in stressful situations rewarding.

But sometimes I do like to be alone. Almost as if, as a human, I have different moods, as well as different abilities, that can't be summed up too easily. Sometimes I feel comfortable around people, and like their company, sometimes I do not. Sometimes I am very flexible, able to change with conditions, and sometimes I prefer to do things my own way. The reasons I like some things and loathe others (there is an origin story to my hatred of bananas) come from a long and varied history, and can't be explained as being the product of my neurons.

Notice that I am talking about myself. I have no idea what goes on in other people's heads. I don't know at what level a difference in thought patterns and emotional comfort levels becomes a condition, when it makes daily tasks and interactions fundamentally difficult. But for me, while some of the paradigm of "neurotypical" versus "neurodivergent" fits my experience, it still seems to be a forced explanation, that explains only a small percentage of how I relate to other people, and my environment.