I wrote to my friend about it recently and she told me the word I’d used initially, “narcissism,” was too harsh. “Narcissism” evokes images of self aggrandizement, selfishness, and delusions of grandeur. But the image I want to convey is one I’m positive most people have experienced on one level or another.
What Self Focus Is Like for a Neurotypical Person
This is what I mean by “self focus.” Even in situations where the world isn’t actually watching us, it sometimes feels as though if we slip, everyone will see us fall.
What Self Focus Is Like for a Neurodivergent Person
When I go out to meet with people, I spend hours ahead of time fretting over how I’ll mess it up. When I write for people to read, I’m terrified of the catastrophic effects it will have, that I’m doing it wrong and people will notice.
On especially bad days I’ve been known to forget how to walk properly and I have to manually move my feet, because what if I’m doing it wrong? Will people notice? I am hyper aware of myself at all times and that means I assume others are as well.
The World Spins On: My Personal Revelation
The world spins on. It’s liberating to think about. But, I had to come to that revelation myself, after a long period of introspection.
It’s not a subject that gets talked about, because it’s a hard topic to tackle from all sides and for all parties involved. I had to sort through my fears alone and even now it’s not easy to make the lesson stick in my mind, because fear is hard to conquer when it stems from messed up chemical reactions.
The self focus is still there, and it makes me feel selfish and broken a lot of days.
How To Help
All I can say is to please be understanding when we’re fearful.
- Remind us gently that we aren’t the center of the world.
- Be a safety net so we feel less fearful of walking that tightrope between chronic anxiety and the bravery and effort it takes to push through it.
- Remind us that we're likable, lovable, and remember that we aren’t bad for thinking mostly of our own perceptions.
Because at the end of the day, we aren’t selfish or evil or even self centered. We’re just sick.