I just came back from my first shift after my sick leave. It was a small care home, I was there before but worked with all different staff today, which I still found somehow refreshing. I kept reminding myself throughout the shift to play an introvert and it was going ok. During the break I put mu headphones on and was listening to music so didn’t have to talk to anybody or even agonise trying to work out what other people are talking about and if that possibly means they’re not very friendly with another colleague and if they’re not, then do they really have a reason for that or are just being mean.
I only had a very brief chat with everyone at the beginning of the shift, during handover, and that was it, although obviously I communicated with people regarding tasks that needed doing.
At some point a guy who was in the same room asked, completely out of nowhere, how long I had been in this country. ‘Around 14 years’ I said. I then kept wondering why he asked that question. How I understand that, it is seen as inappropriate to ask someone similar questions and if you want to find out you need to make a conversation. If you ask out of nowhere it can be interpreted like if you’re trying to imply something. With this question it seemed to me that he was trying to tell me that something about me should different, possibly my level of English? But I can communicate fine. Possibly then that I should be ‘more British’, that means more cheerful and talkative (are British cheerful and talkative?) instead of being introverted. Finally I told myself that I need to try to be more assertive and try to communicate when something is puzzling me so like two minutes later I asked ‘Why?’ which obviously didn’t get me anywhere because he replied with ‘I just wondered’ which then, I thought, sounded a bit strange, possibly slightly racist, but I told myself that sometimes it’s better to be confused than sound confrontational so I didn’t respond.
I must point out here that only when I was getting ready to write this post I realised that the guy knew absolutely nothing about me when he asked that question so he could have not been implying anything. Obviously I knew he didn’t know anything about me but I wasn’t able to include that fact when I was trying to imagine what he thinks. Lack of theory of mind, mind you!
During the shift I didn’t want to know who is friendly with who and wanted to be kept outside of all the politics but towards the end I started getting really curious about where other staff is going after work, which was a totally new experience for me. So far I always had the impression that people who I don’t know well disappear if I can’t see them – obviously logically I know this is not true, I am only talking about my instinctive response. Today I really seemed to understand that they go to their husbands, children, possibly shopping or for coffee out and I found that fascinating. I wonder now whether the change in my thinking was caused by the experience I had a few weeks ago that made me realise that other people have the same experience as me?
You can read about it here: https://autisticandme.com/2022/03/24/other-people-have-the-same-experience-as-me/
I really hope I’d go back there, if only to find out who’s married, who has children and all the similar things. Human beings always fascinated me.