Today I asked someone to “please” not to bcc spam to my email inbox. They responded back rudely, rather unusual considering that person was a “Program Manager”, whose entire job depends on communication skills. What sent me in a spiral was the remark that I was “strange and weird”. Of course, I recovered in a few moments, like always – “normal, calm and composed”.
Everybody perceives me as the guy who avoids social situations and doesn’t talk to anyone. The guy who sits with headphones on throughout the work day. The guy who eats lunch alone at 3 PM when nobody else is around. I’ve gotten comments from every single manager I have worked with, that I am very good technically and very detailed in analyzing problems, but should talk more around people.
The strange part of living in India is that 99% of the population don’t know the common signs and difficulties. This includes my parents, teachers, friends and almost everyone I have ever met. This means that I can never talk about this to anyone without receiving either pity, distrust or laughter. Not to mention ignorant comments like – Oh you cannot have it because you are successful / you are intelligent / you are not a child anymore… etc.
I’ve met a thousand people in my company. Believe me, I’ve looked for signs, there is no one like me at my workplace. One in sixty eight? Is everybody good at faking it or did they not make it here? I’m not ready to become the corporate poster boy by coming out.
Just don’t remind me that I am different, because I did not ask to be. Its hard enough leaving the safe confines of my room every morning, dragging myself to the office, telling myself to maintain eye contact during every conversation and not to lose focus every five minutes because some people decided that they needed to have a discussion literally one feet away from my desk. Mirroring helps for maintaining conversations. Initiating one is a completely different beast to tackle.
I am happy to have come this far by just identifying and adapting to situations. I am lucky to be in the right career and right mindset. Just not in the right country, I guess.