533: Interviewing Autistic Individuals

 

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1. When being interviewed for a potential job, adults on the autistic spectrum may appear as one of two extremes: 1) overly confident with an almost false persona or 2) extremely nervous and apologetic.
2. Rarely, during an interview, is an autistic jobseeker feeling at ease and content, and able to present a comfortable version of self. This is not an attempt to fool or falsify self, but instead an effort to try to blend in and be part of the ‘norm.’
3. Without a clear guidelines of how to act in a specific role, in this case as interviewee, the an autistic can present as anxious, tense, aloof, frightened or extremely nervous.
4. Partaking in an interview can cause extreme stress for days before the interview. The interview process will more likely than not be over-thought and imagined repeatedly, with multiple outcomes and scenarios. The candidate on the spectrum will typically relive the actual interview itself, repeatedly after the event.
5. What might appear as a simple ‘not a fit’ or ‘no thank you,’ to the hiring agent, can be devastatingly crushing to a person with autism. It’s common to obsess over the reasons for failure and to catastrophize the outcome, incorporating all-or-nothing thinking, and self-torture, in the form of repetitive, obsessive thoughts regarding the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs.’
6. During the hiring process the autistic job candidate might be set at ease with (kind) frankness, direct instructions, consistent reassurance, and clear expectations and goals. While such measures might seem as special treatment or deemed as ‘making exceptions,’ when given the fact that autism is primarily centered on social and communication challenges, taking such measures to decrease social anxiety ought to be considered an essential priority in recruitment.
7. Knowing exact timelines and being exposed to consistent correspondence can alleviate all candidates’ stress levels, but this is particularly true for people on the spectrum. The sense of unpredictability and not-knowing can overcome and consume a person with autism; and this consumption will directly affect their relations with others and behavior, until resolved. In addition, sudden time changes, tardiness, and rescheduling, on the company’s part, can lead to candidates experiencing increased stress levels, panic, and nervousness.
8. Before an interview, some candidates on the spectrum will create scenarios in their mind of failure and miscommunication, and have fear of not being able to express their true intentions and true self. They often have a fear of not appearing genuine and honest enough.
9. Oftentimes, the autistic job candidate will want to be seen, heard and understood; as is such, it is commonplace for an jobseeker to provide information that the interviewer many not deem appropriate, necessary, or beneficial. Most autistics will in fact share thoughts and insights to their own detriment, unable to stop the need to be transparent and forthcoming. While the hiring agent might find this transparency refreshing or curious, the candidate will often feel baffled and embarrassed by their own actions, thinking, once again, they have revealed too much and not followed the ‘correct’ rules.
10. The autistic job candidate will likely wish to have a chance to process with the interviewer as soon as possible to know exactly and specifically ways to improve presentation. For this reason, in some cases, if opportunity allows, the candidate will benefit from careful explanation regarding the reasons why they weren’t hired or considered for further recruitment.
11. As individuals on the spectrum have coexisting conditions such as OCD, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and aforementioned patterns of thinking that create a type of self-badgering, it is vital for the recruitment team members to be sensitive to the possible detrimental consequences of the interview process. They simply are not going to respond like typical candidates. What might take a typical person a week to overcome, might take the autistic person years. Often events, particularly those that create a sense of failure, become ingrained in the psyche of a person on the spectrum for a lifetime. While it is impossible for companies to take measures to consistently provide potential candidates reassuring feedback after an interview, it is plausible that interviewers be trained in measures to take to prevent further trauma.
12. Some autistics will have little to no trouble expressing self in various communication venues. But the large majority will have specific triggers to communication that can bring on various outcomes, including panic attacks, insomnia, inconsolable anxiety, and nonstop, rapid thinking.
13. While the autistic individual is interviewing, they will often be acutely self-aware and preoccupied by their own nervousness and internal coaching, and be simultaneously experiencing two conversations at once—one that is shared aloud between the interviewer and interviewee, and one that is an ongoing internal dialogue. Often the internal voice will overshadow the external conversation and, as a result, gaps of time in the interview will be lost. What might appear as being not being present or distracted, is typically the individual attempting to balance the internal voice with the external conversation. It is suitable and advisable for the interviewer to provide ample time for restating questions, reassuring statements, and redirecting the candidate with ideas and positive input.
14. Candidates on the spectrum will sometimes panic with open-ended questions, as most are very quick thinkers, able to connect information at rapid speed and reach multiple conclusions in a matter of seconds. While deliberating over a question, the candidate is also contemplating about what the interviewer expects, wants, and is hinting at. The more specific and direct a question, the better.
15. Some candidates will give quick, short, abrupt answers and be mistaken for non-personable and not forthcoming; while others will overstate, be long-winded and go ‘on and on.’ This tendency for oversharing, or being short in response, will also be present in written documents, such as resumes. It is difficult for a person on the spectrum to judge when written word and spoken word is deemed ‘enough.’ Efforts to clarify, probe, and retrieve more ‘substantial’ information might cause further panic.
16. In most cases, people on the spectrum communicate better in written form with time to process, rethink, and edit thoughts and ideas, than spoken form. When possible, some type of written assessment ought to be utilized during recruitment screening, such as an essay or instant messaging service.
17. Autistics are used to being judged, ridiculed, and told how to fix their behavior. People on the spectrum are often subjected to unsolicited advice, tips,and direction their whole lives. It is best not to offer assistance or help, or a point of view, unless asked.

sam

This post was revised in the summer of 2017. 

Sam’s new book Autism in a Briefcase: A leading edge tool for putting diversity into action is coming soon!

Written by founder of myspectrumsuite.com  Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi), M.Ed. is the mother of three boys, one adult son who is on the autism spectrum. She is the lead job recruiter for ULTRA Testing, an autism educator, the author of the blog and book Everyday Aspergers, Selection Committee Chair at the ANCA World Autism Festival and is active in autism groups locally and globally. Samantha serves as a guest speaker, workshop presenter, curriculum developer, neurodiversity recruitment specialist, and more. She is working on her second book Autism in a Briefcase, written to provide insight to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with special needs, she appreciates the skills and talents of autistics. Diagnosed with Aspergers in 2012, she enjoys the arts, writing, movies, travel, and connecting with others. (More people know Sam by Sam because it’s her community pen name.)

385: Navigating the Female Aspergerian Mind

“Samantha Craft,” M.Ed. has served as an educator for adults and children, a spiritual counselor and an advocate for individuals with special needs. She holds a teaching credential and a Master’s Degree in Education, and has completed multiple postgraduate courseworks in the field of psychology and counseling. Currently, under the penname of Samantha Craft, she manages and authors the well-circulated blog Everyday Aspergers: Life through the eyes of a female with Aspergers. Her prolific writings depict the multifaceted daily life of an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. Samantha maintains contact with people across the world touched by ASD and serves as the founder of an online support group for adult females on the autistic spectrum. She resides with her husband and three sons, (one with ASD), in the state of Washington.

This article may be duplicated for professional use in an educational setting and for family members in the home setting. Please keep contact information on the page. The works are copyright protected and not meant for duplication for groups or presentations. Copies of the edited and complete article can be found in the future publication of a peer reviewed journal.

Navigating the Female Aspergerian Mind

Chances are, because of the lack of available resources in regards to Females with Asperger’s Syndrome, an undiagnosed female with ASD has slipped under the radar of many professionals. With today’s growing rates of autistic syndromes, any professional established in the field of mental health therapy would benefit from careful examination of the complexities of Asperger’s Syndrome, as it pertains to the female experience. Until recently, little to nothing was known about the female with Asperger’s, as most, if not all, current diagnostic tools are geared toward and develop based on the male genders’ characteristics of ASD. The simplest of signs that might indicate the female representation of Asperger’s to a practitioner are often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, denied, diluted, or unnoticed.

As a result of under-diagnoses, a large majority of females on the autistic spectrum are reaching adulthood as survivors of multiple emotional and physical traumas. Because limited resources and tools are available for working with the female client with Asperger’s, professionals sometimes fall back on what has worked with clients who do not have ASD, regardless of the fact that Asperger’s is not a mental health condition, but a neurological syndrome. More often than not the practitioner treats the symptoms and not the condition, focusing on the obvious comorbid traits of Asperger’s, such as depression and anxiety, without full consideration dedicated to the whole of the person, in particular the fact that he is working with an individual who views the world somewhat different from the mainstream client. Though the professional has the client’s best interest in mind, in some cases the professional’s overall lack of education and limited know-how can be not only non-beneficial for the client with ASD, but detrimental to the psyche. Wherein the astute practitioner recognizes the challenges at hand in regards to the female with ASD, he seems to be a rare minority.

Considering the sensitive nature of the female with Asperger’s condition, an individual whom has likely often found herself a subject of alienation, ridicule, suspicion, doubt and abuse, it is vital for the professional to understand the power she holds to make or break her client; especially the client’s feasible outlook on seeking out further assistance as pertains to her emotional well-being. In example, females on the autistic spectrum develop both conscious and subconscious strategies in their attempt to function effectively in a world which often appears unpredictable and potentially volatile. Oftentimes, a female with Asperger’s is using all of her mental and emotional resources to merely survive and navigate the social world. In response she is fatigued and over-taxed. If a female is partaking in mental health therapy, and the therapist suggest to her that she change or adjust some of her coping mechanisms, for example seeking out strategies to decrease verbal processing, the suggestion itself has the potential to create increased anxiety and feasibly shutdown the client’s ability to remain focused and present. Aspects of the unexplored “Aspergerian” mind can present challenges and/or roadblocks that the practitioner does not necessarily encounter in therapeutic dialogue with ‘typical’ clients, e.g., those presenting with mental health illness without a neurological condition. (I avoid the word ‘disorder’ entirely, in regards to Asperger’s Syndrome, as it is my firm belief that just because one functions outside the perimeters of the current majorities’ collective agreement of norm does not by the process of negation establish a select group as abnormal or having a disorder.)

In understanding the female’s (with Aspergers) mindset is uniquely different from the majority of mainstream society, including her capacity for complexity of thoughts, intense mental connections/scaffolding, and advanced logical sequencing, and taking into account the potential effects of a lifetime of repeated humiliation and abuse, it is advisable for the professional to consider the (ASD) client’s trauma may reach far beyond what is considered the typical depths of post-traumatic stress. Add this to her tendencies for sensory-stimuli overload, and the female with Aspergers will likely exhibit an instinctual flight-or-flight response to any new situation; especially those pertaining to vulnerability and emotional intimacy. Other factors hindering the benefits of therapy include the client’s ability to recreate her self-presentation based on how she perceives the professional perceives her. Often a master actress, the female with Asperger’s has developed a toolbox of masks enabling her to move in the world undetectable to the naked, untrained eye. Here in the client-practitioner relationship, the client is likely to mold into the persona that she believes best fits the comfort-level of the professional, moving within the room of therapy just as she moves in the exterior symbolic rooms of her life. A professional, unstudied in the elements of the female condition of Asperger’s, is apt to miss the nuances of a given client’s chameleon qualities, overlooking the client’s subtle changes in representation of self or wrongfully assuming the client is resorting to trickery and sabotage.

The female with Asperger’s, while extremely witty and intelligent, exhibits continual emotional fragility. In some cases this is hidden behind emotionally-detached humor or within the guise of a persona she is currently exhibiting; e.g., she may imitate a character on television. Though she is emotionally vulnerable, she is capable of hiding herself from other people and is keen in her honed ability to detect social norms and acceptable behaviors of a given situation. Given her nature and character, one word or mannerism from the practitioner may be overanalyzed and/or perceived by the client as a threat or criticism. Misinterpretations, distrust, or a number of other variables, can lead the client to shutdown (emotional withdraw), meltdown (emotional outburst), retreat into imagination or fantasy, recreate the presentation of self, and/or switch from a state of emotional presence to logical analysis. When the client is triggered by the professional and responds accordingly, the quality of the therapeutic relationship is adversely affected. Unlike the mainstream client, a woman with Asperger’s may never trust a professional once she believes she has been misinterpreted and/or criticized.

As a professionally diagnosed female with Asperger’s, in reviewing my own experiences in therapy, which encompass a decade-long-span of individual, couple, small-group and large-group interaction, incorporating a cornucopia of therapeutic techniques and theories, my most damaging experiences occurred when the practitioner was neither vulnerable nor authentic, a perceived-lacking from my point of view, that affected my capacity to connect at a humanistic-level with the practitioner. The best scenarios, in my therapy experience as the client, occurred when the professional was free of dogma, restrictions, and rigid-habits, and able to see through my mirage of disguises. In truth, I don’t think this ever happened, the best scenario that is, and that I, in actuality, through the process of vigorous self-help and psychological self-studies and applications, became my own psychologist by trade, primarily implementing Transpersonal Psychotherapy and elements of Logotherapy.

Based on my own life experience, the deep-level of understanding of my own Asperger’s condition and the personal interactions with other females on the autisitc spectrum, I have developed a list of what I would have liked to have seen, given the means and opportunity to time travel back as a client or to time travel forward as a practitioner. In recognizing each therapist has his unique style, I offer this as a list of suggested ideas, my hope and intention being to provide others the opportunity for a beneficial client-practitioner relationship.

List of Ideas

356: Teaching the Teachers

I have been praying and asking for guidance regarding my future vocation and avenue of service, and the answers very much entered through slipstream full force this early morn.

At first, I was given the message (through my little knowing voice) that my husband would over-sleep his five a.m. wakeup call (alarm) and be late for work, unless I was awake to wake him up. Hmmm. That was troubling, as with my own dyspraxia/dyslexia, I had no idea how to reset my own alarm in order to wake him up, as he was sleeping in my son’s bedroom. (Long story why we were in separate rooms, but basically boils down to dinosaur snoring, if there was such a thing.) I could have retrieved my phone from upstairs I suppose, but I wasn’t awake enough to think of that. So I tossed and turned in a type of vision-state for a bit over an hour. Knowing enough I had to stay partially awake.

I was certain time stood still, as the leap between the time of four to five seemed to take the stretch of a day. During this time I was shown image upon image.

I revisited my time at the university, the place I chose to leave a little over a year ago, based on the way I was discriminated against for mentioning I had Aspergers Syndrome. I revisited it all, the whole of it—emotions, illness brought on by the stress, the mourning process, the wanting to prove my side of the event and expose the injustice, the sob-filled-telling to my therapist and her concurring I had been the victim of appalling behavior on said professor’s part, the anger stage of wanting to sue, the humiliation part of being set up in a mediation that wasn’t a mediation…and on and on.

How dare they, is what I thought, and I spun and circled in mind about pulling up the evidence—the emails from the witness who at the time of mediation froze up and remembered nothing, the notes from my therapist, even my therapist’s comment that this man had a reputation, hearsay or not, she knew of him well, the notes from the Dean’s meeting, the Dean of the department warning me not to ever bring up the word Aspergers in professional setting: “It’s not the appropriate place.”

I dug up so much old stuff: the confusion of being accepted into a Masters in Counseling program that didn’t even want to know who I was, who didn’t even want to know how my mind functioned. The confusion of being told I was creating my condition (Aspergers) and announcing to the world my son’s brain (who has Aspergers) is broken. The confusion of receiving lower marks on my papers after the mediation took place. The confusion of one professor offering unsolicited advice about me, once she found out I had Aspergers. The meltdown of my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love that dissipated much like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz into a molten black. Why was it I who had to undergo such pain?

I thought back to the high marks I received as an educator. Always the highest marks. How my college classes previously, through undergraduate work to my Master’s in Education program had been a place of safety. How the professors appreciated my input and intelligence. At times how I became the exemplary “one” or the teacher’s pet. I remembered how with every endeavor I’d ever set out to do, I had excelled, even exceeded others’ expectation. And here, in the span of little over a semester, with the hearing of the word Aspergers, the others, a set whom were supposed to be my mentors, painted me with their own muted greys into something I was not and am not.

Suddenly, all of me became what they saw. Suddenly, I had lost all I had built. With one swipe they knocked the self out of me.

And as I processed through the events and corresponding pain, I began to wonder what to do with this surfacing anger. A damaging letter came to mind: “Look at what they did to me.” And I let those thoughts come readily and steadily and tear into me one by one. I bled in my bed. I bled and bled, the tears of my soul seeking vengeance.

And then, with the passing of deep ache and hollowed out chance, I let the feeling go. I let the anger purge through me and erase the fear. I let the anger dance and take flight. I let the scenarios play out. I let the other me who wished to be free escape. And this shadow side, she wept more. Her screams the own echoes of demise and lack of rescue. For she had tried so very hard at this University, where her dream of being a therapist was going to come true. She read all of the “extra” books, did all of the “extra” credit, spent countless hours, setting aside her dyslexia and dyspraxia, in hopes of impressing her professors, and hopes they would see her, see her brilliance, see her mind, see the gift she so readily wanted to share with the world. This part of her less-ego than giving spirit. See me, see me, see me! That is all she wanted. That was all she ever wanted.

In receiving her diagnosis the world made sense to her finally. She wanted to celebrate. Four-decades of not knowing made sense in a split-second. Four-decades of intense suffering realized and ended with the blink of an eye. In the mention of a word. This gem of Aspergers had saved her, had brought her home onto herself.

And in knowing this, she wanted to share. She had to share. She had to let others know. “Look, I found the key. Look!”…….

And instead I was made to think I was broken. I was wrong. I was made to be pushed back into a hole and remain uncovered. Not one professor wanted to hear, wanted to know about Aspergers. Even in the beginning of the second-semester of my group-therapy class I was warned, we as class warned: Don’t share the diagnosis stuff here.

Really? I was so beside myself, how could I share in group therapy without sharing the essential element of who I thought myself to be and how I thought myself to function.

Could they not see I wasn’t broken? Could they not see that Aspergers was not a disease, not an illness, not anything beyond the way I saw the world?

And the questions came bubbling: Why would I be hushed, unless indeed I was entirely flawed? Why would I be told I created this, unless I was entirely unaware of my own self?

So much damage done, in so little time.

Today, before the sun rose, I wept in bed, the whole of my body sweating and seeping out the poison. And I turned and turned, half in sleep and half in agony. Lessons, lessons, and more lessons.

And then the peace finally came. Right when it was time to awaken my husband, I was awoken.

The clarity seeped through me. I saw that I had detoxed the emotions. I finally released the torturous anguish. I finally set my self free and their falsehood to rest.

I awoke fully with a knowing. I knew what I was supposed to do.

I was to teach others, teach the teachers of the teachers, the educators of future counselors and psychologist, the parents, the caretakers, the women of tender-heart and soul like me. Teach them that Aspergers is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide away. Teach the beauty of who we are to erase the darkness that once pushed me into hiding.

355: To the Professional

Take away the notepad and paper, take away the laptop, or whatever you are about to write on. I am more concerned with what you are writing and thinking than my own self.

I am uncomfortable looking at you. I don’t like your office, for one reason or another. Maybe you are messy or maybe too clean. It might smell in an offensive way or be too dark and cluttered. Then again the sunlight might be seeping through and displaying the dancing dust and pulling me in thought to germs and uncleanliness. If you cleaned, I am hoping you didn’t use toxins, and I am wondering how many people have sat in this chair before, and how they sit, how they position their body, but mostly how they position their mind.

I am wondering with each word I speak what you think and if I have answered to meet your expectations and intentions. I can guess half of what you will say and how you will say it, because I have studied you from the moment we met, and I have studied those like you before. I know more about the human language and the nuances and gestures and games than you can imagine. I can feel your energy, and I can feel how your opinion of me switches. I can feel you weighing in on me and my words balanced against your thoughts.

I am uncomfortable in all ways and trying to present myself as comfortable. And this you probably know, as I already know, and you are watching me closer, as if in watching I will grow in security and trust. But I won’t. I will feel for you what I feel for everyone. I will either like you instantly or you will make me want to run. And with the liking I will analyze why and if this is valid, this feeling of companionship and connection. I will linger here a short time, especially in comparison to if I want to run. If I want to run my thoughts will circle around you for a favorable amount of time, working inside and outside of your being and attempting to decipher the danger. If I distrust you, I will likely always distrust you. This may be nothing you have ever said or done; this is my natural instinct.

I have been preyed upon by predators and sought out by experts. I have been probed and prodded and measured one too many times. I do not like the way you measure me. Not one bit, and I want this time to end.

I want to like you, and if I don’t, I fear my own rejection; I fear the dialogue that will reach into the contours of my mind and debate the whys and hows of my own inclinations.

I will listen to you as best I can, but don’t count on me hearing all of what you say. One word will set me adrift into another place, one unusual sound or one ordinary sound from you or from the room that is silent. I will hear what you do not hear. I will hear the quietness through the silence. I will hear the pauses in your monologue, and I will question your expertise.

I will wonder if you like me and then wonder why I even care, and why it is important that you do like me, even if I despise you and everything about your space. I will still want to be your friend, and a part of me will still love you, like some pup you picked up from the alley while in a mode of rescue. I will seek harbor and refuge in this space you have provided, knowing I am paying, or someone is paying for this form of companionship that frightens me.

I will question your degrees, your education, your protocols, your knowledge, your booksmarts, and your conclusions without hint of regard. I will dive down corridors of your soul and wander about hunting out the darkness. And all this I will do as you sit there scratching away notes about me.

For I will have compiled a list a volume thick in the time you have taken for me to answer a few questions. And simultaneously, I will have composed my own representation of self to you, pulling out what is expected, and what might make you comfortable, playing the game so you can see me and not be swooped away by the real me that is locked away behind this tattered worn curtain of self.

You can’t reach in, as hard as you try, unless I know you recognize me. I won’t let you past, unless I know you are real, that you have felt the deepest pains and angst, that you, too, have been in the shadowed darkness weeping for reprieve, that you have been abandoned, ostracized, left for nothing, created into something others wanted you to be. I will not let you near, unless I know your heart has grown in the depths of the oceans and shoots out to save those who wither.

Your documented degrees mean nothing to me. Your schooling is lost. What you knew and what you think you know is not this me staring back at you. I am in no textbook and in no past discoveries. My experience is uniquely mine, and unless you have dived into the caverns of my mind, unless you can see the world of illusion, as I can, then I have no purpose or need for you.

Entirely, I sit. Entirely, I am. And I understand beyond measure what grips you and shakes you and what makes you spin. I can tell in your eyes when you are complimented you are lit, and when you are unsure you folly. I see you, like a master watching a child; I see your discomfort, your waverng, your questions. But mostly I see straight to the purity of your soul, straight into the core.

So don’t waste my time with man invented games and manmade questionnaires that nibble away at my character and personhood. I am beyond this, these guesses and marks, this test to prove something that needs no proving.

I am not this Aspergers. I am not this Autism. I am human in need of being seen.

I am not a test subject, nor am I confused. I am not sick. I am not ill in the slightest sense. I am a unique and special individual born out of the ashes into the phoenix. I am both God and Goddess and have so much to teach you.

So do not look past the secrets in my eyes to check off the boxes of your own design. Seek first in me the wisdom I carry, the answers, the knowledge. See what I have to say. Hear what my world is like, for unless you have lived inside of this me, then you are the one that remains alien.

Don’t pretend you understand my condition or my brain or my way of life. Don’t pretend you can help me. I already know your tactics and trickery. As innocent and as kind you be, to me everything you present I shall take apart and examine from source.

Present to me your own self, the deepest part of you, the part the rest of the world hides so readily in a game. Take off your mask and meet me in the playing field I recognize: one of pureness, naiveté, child-like heart and genuineness. Do not strip me of the very armor that sews my seams. Uplift my attributes and charm, the gentle grace that illuminates from the spirit I am.

Do not think that because you have a title or name that you are therefore anymore or any less than the others. You are still garbed in your fashions and mystery. Undress, strip down, bear your nakedness and show me your frailty. That is the only reason I am here. Not to teach you how to help me. Not to teach you how to change me. But to show you what truth and beauty is.

My way is not wrong. Nor is my mind hindered. My way is the one of the child of goodness and authenticity, and until you understand that what I carry is no less damaged than the stars in the sky and no less worthy than your very own heart, than you cannot reach me.

If you want to help me, if you want to truly help me, then become my student, so I can become yours. Meet me as one. And see that I am not your patient, your client, or your case study. I am me.

In all my uniqueness I am me. And in this, in being me, in being all of me, perhaps in your wanting to help me, it is truly I that will set you free.

302: The Black of Me

I was standing in front of a variety of buckets of paint. I dipped myself in paint after paint.
I was in search of answers.
Soon I was multi-colored and dripping in knowledge.
I dipped and dipped more and a brilliant rainbow blossomed.
I dipped and dipped, covering every inch of me, until the colors all merged.
Then, and only then, I was the color of black.
But it did not bother me, this guise, this dark, this black.
For I knew all the other colors were still there, still with me, and now in me.
But then the “experts” and “professionals” entered the room, where I stood dripping black. And they observed. Their clipboards and furrowed brows moving in an unwanted rhythm. The dance of them entering my mind and hurting my being.
And they looked and looked where I stood—noting this black shroud upon me.
And I knew then that they were blind, that they could not see all the colors.
They only saw black.
They were quick to form theories about this black. And they were quick to find words, and labels, and meaning.
They assumed since I was garbed in black that I liked black, and only black. They assumed what they saw was the truth.
They couldn’t see.
They couldn’t see that just as black was my companion, so was every other color. Colors they had never imagined.
I couldn’t explain the colors to them. I couldn’t go back and show them where I’d been. I didn’t know how.
I didn’t know the words.
I was blind to their words, as they were blind to my colors.
To them I needed black.
To them I was black.
To them this end product of black was their everything.
They didn’t know that black was merely the mixing of everywhere I’d searched and everything I’d questioned.
They didn’t know that black was not the end product. There were still more colors to find. Still more colors to be.
But when they looked, they saw black.
They gathered their boxes next.
They needed boxes like I needed colors.
I understood that we both craved things that the other did not see or comprehend.
But somehow I was supposed to accept and understand their boxes. Even though they do not attempt to see my colors.
This made me cry inside. This disconnection. And the black grew darker, thick and coated. A darkness that stopped the colors from seeping through. And stopped me from dipping and dripping. Stopped me from being.
And as I was black to them, I was placed in their box of black.
And from there, in the box, I watched them write the words of who I am.
I could not tell them how these words made me feel. I was too busy crying for the lost colors.
How I longed for them to see my colors. To see me in completion. How I longed for them to dip.
For then I knew they would see.
They would see what I see.
And through their dipping and dripping
They would soon discover
That their boxes never existed.