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Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 30 Dec 2021
Age: 51
Gender: Male
Posts: 5

06 Jan 2022, 7:20 pm

Edna3362 wrote:
NaturalComposer wrote:
EEngineer75 wrote:
NaturalComposer wrote:
In my experience, adopting the personalities of television and movie characters in order to fit in and it has never been tiring for me until I eventually burned out later in life. Does anyone else here feel the same?

Out of curiosity:
Q1: Do you choose characters based on the situation? Your mood?
Q2: When you burned out on masking this way, how often were you changing characters?
Q3: What might have been your favorite character(s) for maintaining calm amidst a personally frustrating situation (e.g. frustration aimed more at your own predicament)? How about a challenging social or work/group situation?

NaturalComposer wrote:
Well, in my case, I'm not actually worrying about body language or pushing myself to behave unnaturally. I'm adopting someone else's personality as my own persona. I only envision myself as that person internally and it actually helps me to relax around other people without having to worry about what their reaction may be to me.

I can't say I've done this with movie or TV characters--except a few times when playing sports: I'd imagine I was Michael Jordan (fade away), Scottie Pippen (bank shot), my favorite college defender, or sometimes a panther, waiting to pounce.

Q1: I tend to choose characters based on personalities that I can relate to or that I admire in some fashion.
Q2: When I burned out, nothing had changed regarding the characters and how I masked. It basically had to do with other circumstances that occurred at that time. I'm sure that life circumstances, in combination with masking, played a big role in the burn out. I haven't masked since and I think if I tried to do that now, it would be tiring for me.
Q3: I would say that I typically emulated strong, quiet characters with uncompromising moral values. These are the people I admired. I would adopt their personalities by watching them over and over until I knew their characters well enough to react to real life situations in the same way I thought they would.

What is the main discrepancy between yourself from acting as these characters?
And how was it that it became exhausting to act like one?

I'm not sure how, or even if it was the masking alone that had any kind of real negative effect on me. There wasn't a huge difference between the types of characters that I emulated and myself, although I probably lost sight of who I really am to a great extent.


Joined: 8 Apr 2016
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07 Jan 2022, 5:47 am

I have been emulating characters i like or admire for long time too. I don't think how much it works in the eyes of the people and sometimes feel like i am a fraud. But i became so used to it.


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07 Jan 2022, 8:21 am

Hmm, I wonder...

What is the gap between personality emulation and identity investment?

The former is obviously about masking, identity compensation and is a combination of acting skills.
Meant for short term situations.

The latter is a road to be someone a person wants to become and is deliberately cultivating a developmental form of growth.
Long-term development, can be a form of discipline or a way of living or both.

Seems so similar on the outside.
The difference can be very much night and day in the inside.

How does one develop further after seemingly developmentally socially and emotionally stuck since teenage years?

That's the question.
I'm thinking of identity investment usually meant for young adults who realistically don't know what they want, or adults who had yet to actually know or finally choose what they want.

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Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

Joined: 6 Jan 2022
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Location: Cracow, Poland

07 Jan 2022, 8:34 am


I was diagnosed late (at age of 33) and before that, was not even aware of what masking means. Looking back, I did that all the time - or rather, I've tried to. As a teenager I've been observing human behaviours and even doing "social experiments" on people around me, trying to get a desired reaction out of them to see what is working and what is not (I've hurt a lot of people with that). I was trying to learn a set of rules, which I've been trying to apply to my daily interactions with others. And I was always failing miserably at this. Simply because people are not inherently rational minds working in the same way, to which any universal set of rules applies to, when it comes to guiding their behaviour.

And yes, it was always tiring. Because I had to run at "full capacity" while engaging in social interactions, focusing not only on what people are saying and how they are doing that, but also having to "translate" it on the fly and how properly respond to them, considering their social expectations. I was using what you can describe as a metaphorical table of rules I've put myself together. This was mentally exhausting. And frustrating, when it didn't "click", which was a lot of time. People are unpredictable in terms of behaviour and there are far too many variables that may impact it, from general mood, feelings towards people around them, physical wellness and so on. The same response can be taken as a joke in one situation, yet it can be perceived as an offence in another, even though these two cases are not that different.

As for doing masking like forcing myself to make eye contact, smiling or the likes, I haven't really done it that much. Only on basic level, like: smile if you are around people you want to get on good terms with.

In the end, I would compare masking to practice tucking, which trans women who have not underwent gender confirmation surgery do. They do this to "pass" and look like cis women when wearing clothes perceived as feminine. It is not really comfortable practice, because in general, you are doing a thing to your body that you aren't supposed to - testicles are not meant to be pushed inside the abdomen. But they do this to be more like a group they want to fit in.

For people on the spectrum, masking is psychological equivalent of that. Our brains are not "wired" for, or not as efficient at, doing some stuff related to interaction like those of neurotypical people. No wonder that it causes discomfort and frustration. But a lot of us try to do it anyway, just to "pass". It is especially impacting those who have high social needs and seek contact for other people despite their autism/Asperger's.

In my opinion, this is the worst situation to be in - I've got in touch with only one of such people with AS via facebook group (not related to AS) and she was depressed and unhappy because she couldn't fit in. She was participating in social skills training therapy and desperately wanted to learn how to behave around people.

After I have been diagnosed, a lot of things have started to make sense. The more I've learned about Asperger's, the more I was thinking: Why should I try to fit in to meet expectation of others if I am not hurting anybody? Just because they take for granted how a person should behave, speak and so on?

Nowadays I am done with masking. It is easy for me, as I am not a people's person - I do not feel the need to hang out with people nor have desire to broaden my social circle. I can focus my attention on only few people, in the end. My wife, kids and dad are closest to me, with my sister and in-laws being more distant and I have one distant friend plus work colleagues that I like, but rarely meet. I tend to not participate in many social events. People close to me know that I have AS, have educated themselves on it and together, we can work on better understanding each other - but it is mutual approach, both parties try to do their best.

When I am entering interactions with people completely outside of my social circle? I cannot be bothered to try and blend in for sake of gaining appreciation of people I rarely see or won't see ever again. But when my assessment tells me that the situation requires masking, I do it. Like, when I see someone in distress who needs to calm down and be comforted, I am jumping through the hoops to mask my AS and make that person feel better.

When I want something from someone or just want to be on good terms with them (like with my kid's teacher, for example), I do bare minimum of masking, but also let these people know that I have AS and briefly explain it, most importantly that lack of facial expression and eye contact is not being dishonest, but normal reaction for me. As for being around completely random people, though? Nope. Mask is off. I do not really care what they think about me and how they see me.

In the end, I do not like masking, no matter the context. But still, I do it when it does benefit me or is necessary to help someone.

In the past, I thought that I must blend in. These days? I like the way I am far more, than what I see in behaviour of neurotypical people. I know that this will sound patronizing, but sometimes I feel sorry for them, seeing how obsessed they tend to be about how others perceive them. Or how their mood and emotions can blurry their thinking and make them say and do irrational things they regret later.

I went beyond accepting my AS, I've embraced it. I wouldn't have it any other way and if there would be a magical switch to make me neurotypical, I wouldn't even think about using it. In the end, if majority is free to be themselves and accepted for who they are, why should we pretend to be someone we are not?