Part of what’s wrong with me is that I can be socially blind. As a teacher, I know that this is probably what’s called a ‘diagnosable’ condition. I am what we might call ‘somewhere on the spectrum.’
I’m usually very astute at reading the social situation right in front of me. I can tell what people are thinking by their facial expression and body language, no trouble. But I am often unable to read the social impact of my own words and actions beyond a layer or two. Other people, I’ve noticed, are much better at understanding farther-reaching implications of what they say or do.
When we’re asked, at the workplace, for example, what we think of some innovation, most people are much better than I at taking into consideration who is asking the question, and whether or not that person can reasonably be expected to want to hear the truth. The downside of this, for me, is that I am often blindsided by negative responses I get when I speak my mind. The upside has always been: I have almost never in my life been afraid to speak my mind (even if naively). As a result, for the most part, people know that what they get from me is the truth as I see it. There is never a hidden, manipulative dimension to what I’m saying, mostly because I am unable to conceive of such a thing. Also, I know from watching others that trying to second-guess yourself before you speak can be stressful. I’m usually exempt from that sort of anxiety at least.
I’ve got to thinking about this after having been interviewed on CBC Radio today, along with Sue Goyette and Christy Ann Conlin, about the recent Giller Prize/ Gaspereau Press kerfuffle. I spoke pretty forthrightly in a way that was critical of Gaspereau Press. The issues in this case seem so clear to me that after the panel discussion, I got to wondering why more people were not speaking out clearly about the terrible mistake Gaspereau Press is making.
And then it hit me: those people who are talking about how the situation is a quandary may be able to see beyond a single chess move on the checkered board of their lives.
Not being crazy must be such a burden.