How can I be more comfortable with expressing myself?

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Estobawk
not a newbie
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Location: Utah, United States of America

How can I be more comfortable with expressing myself?

Unread post by Estobawk »

SMALL ESSAY INCOMING

I am not used to writing essays, letters, stories, or anything like that, so I apologize if what I write is clunky. Also this is my first post on this board, so hello everyone! Every time I say, "express myself," take a drink.

It's just been difficult for me to express whatever I'm feeling and thinking, or do something that makes me feel good about myself, or just good (well, I've masturbated since I was like 5 or something, and I've managed to never be caught, which is a miracle since my mom is a Mormon, but besides that). Especially when I'm around other people.
I especially feel unsure about... progressing? as far as romantic relationships and sexuality are concerned. I was put into "Special Education" during 3rd grade, and for a very long time I would stay up all night on my computer and the internet, meaning that I understood things like that a lot more than most people my age. But obviously my age combined with Mormonism here in Utah meant that I couldn't really express any of that at all. Now I have this lingering little fear whenever I even think about doing or saying anything. I often find years-old YouTube comments I made that I just go like, "GAHH NO," even though they're usually completely normal by most standards.
Now in 9th grade, I got accepted into a super awesome school and the past months have been nothing short of revolutionary for me. But now I've found that I have a hard time expressing myself.

I just wanted some advice on figuring out how to comfortably express myself specifically romantically, sexually, and whatever the equivalent word for 'gender' is. I'm autistic and biologically male, but I've recently had some level of dysphoria. I am both attracted to girls and sometimes I feel like, "Man, it would be awesome to be a girl!" I have also gotten my first crush on someone, which is pretty exciting, as someone who's never kissed or hugged anyone before (except for my close family for obvious reasons. I was talking to one of my friends about this and I mentioned finger-hugging, and they misheard me and thought I said I fingered my mom. That was quite amusing).
It's definitely something I would like to explore (well, not the fingering my mom bit), but whenever I think about it I just get stuck.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, even if it's probably not very easy to understand or reply to.
Heather
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Re: How can I be more comfortable with expressing myself?

Unread post by Heather »

Welcome to the boards, Estobawk. Kudos on taking the positive risk of writing all of this down and sharing it here. :)

For sure, it sounds like you've got a LOT going on all at once. That sounds a lot like 14 to me, period, which isn't universal by any means, but I do certainly think it's common in that pocket for so much to seem to come at you at once, just in time to collide at the intersection with a semi of self-confusion. I dealt with a lot of that myself.

Since it's so much at once that I feel like trying to get more comfortable with it all at once would be a bit of an impossible task, maybe a sort of triage is the best way to go here. What do you say to picking one of these arenas, perhaps the one that feels the most uncomfortable or the most frustrating to be blocked in expression with, and we can try starting there and see where it takes us?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Estobawk
not a newbie
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2022 12:38 pm
Age: 15
Awesomeness Quotient: I think I'm very... emotionally reasonable?
Primary language: English
Pronouns: He / Him?
Sexual identity and orientation: Heterosexual, Questioning
Location: Utah, United States of America

Re: How can I be more comfortable with expressing myself?

Unread post by Estobawk »

I definitely think one that bothers me a lot is what falls under the broad category of 'Relationships.' I often have some sort of idea of what to say in a conversation with friend for example, and I go in with a 'game plan' of sorts of what kinds of questions to ask somebody or how to respond to theirs or what words to use, but I quickly lose track of that and just can't say what I'm thinking or feeling very well.
Also, like I mentioned, I have a crush on a girl (which I've never had before), and I'm really interested in trying to befriend her and such. I know what to do, what to say, but I can't, partly because I lose track and partly because of that lingering fear of expressing anything that I mentioned before. Maybe I'm also just a tad bit nervous.
I think that figuring that out would also open plenty of avenues with everything else. I could talk and have conversations, I could be an emotionally supportive friend... and on towards perhaps a romantic relationship.

Also, can I just say that you've got an awesome website here? Because it's awesome!
Heather
scarleteen founder & director
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:43 am
Age: 52
Awesomeness Quotient: I know every word of The Lorax by heart.
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Location: Chicago

Re: How can I be more comfortable with expressing myself?

Unread post by Heather »

Why thank you! We do our best! Very glad you appreciate it. :)

I think this sounds like a great starting point.

First of all, I want to direct you to Douglas Laman's columns here on the site, which I think might offer some good general advice around some of this. I think this interview with another Autistic writer (Douglas is on the spectrum as well) could be a great place to start: https://www.scarleteen.com/article/disa ... nulty_lcsw. You can use the search function with his name to find his other pieces from there!

I wonder if your game plan is something that's actually helping you or if it might actually be tripping you up? For example, if I go to do an interactive discussion with a small group for work here, I can have an idea of what I want to cover, but if I have much more than that, or if I get even too attached to that, all of the spontenaeity and unpredictability of what the other people bring to the table -- both in terms of their feelings, their ideas and what they say AND how there merely being other people interplays with me and all my stuff -- sucks all of that plan I had out of my head. On the other hand, if I really just go in with a very loose idea of what I want to talk about, or better yet, if I can just show up as myself, with myself, and play it by ear as much as possible, even in the awkward moments, I find things can go a little more smoothly.

I think one thing to know when you're someone who feels socially awkward is that when relationships or interactions are new between people, the bonus is that often EVERYONE feels awkward, not just you. Some people are better at masking than others, and some people may simply fall into the social norms people expect more easily, period, but it's most common for everyone to *feel* awkward regardless, which I tend to find always helps me feel a little better when I feel socially nervous. Like, it's not just me, so I can breathe a little easier, you know?

Another thing I often find helpful in any situation where I'm feeling nervous or awkward is to just put it out there. I always feel like trying to hide it trips me up, whereas just owning it helps me relax, and it's also just really humanizing for everyone. So, it's always an option to say things like, "I have a hard time expressing myself sometimes," or "I feel awkward in new social situations, so if I seem quiet or slow to respond, it's not you, it's just me trying to find my footing."

How does that sound?

I'm at the end of my shift, but I'll be back around tomorrow, and I'm happy to pick this up again and we can talk more about worries around saying the wrong things or things that embarrass you if you like.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Estobawk
not a newbie
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2022 12:38 pm
Age: 15
Awesomeness Quotient: I think I'm very... emotionally reasonable?
Primary language: English
Pronouns: He / Him?
Sexual identity and orientation: Heterosexual, Questioning
Location: Utah, United States of America

Re: How can I be more comfortable with expressing myself?

Unread post by Estobawk »

I don't have an idea what the step between casual, "Hello, how was your day?" and perhaps something a bit deeper. I get stuck on that. What if it just... fizzles out? What if I can't figure out how to be a friend? Or what if I get too excited about things, and drown whoever it is I'm trying to befriend and overwhelm them? I think that's something I'm pretty worried about.
I've just relied pretty much entirely upon adult people for pretty much all my life, and I really just want to have someone who isn't decades older than me who I can be friendly with, and discuss my feelings and thoughts with (and theirs and be their friend). And I could also do plenty of activities with them, which I think would give me something to do and look forward to.
So not knowing what to do combined with this longing for some kind of relationship with someone my age, I just feel like I'll either end up not doing anything or knock everything over.
Once you add in the notion of romance and sex, my mind is just like "GAAAAHHHH I GIVE UP" even if I'm very interested in that.
I've also always been embarrassed by things most people probably think of as completely normal, what I can best describe as a fear of being "cliché." I don't really know how else to describe it so I hope you have an idea of what I mean.
Sam W
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Re: How can I be more comfortable with expressing myself?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Estobawk,

I feel you on the not being sure how to move a conversation from something really basic to something deeper. One thing that really helps me, and might help you as well, as to remember that I don't have to speed-run the process. Potential friends tend to be people we see with some regularity, so there's time to gradually build up a relationship.

In that vein, something that can help with the "ahhh what do I say" feeling is to focus on being as genuinely curious as you can. We tend to grow up assuming there's a specific set up questions that we ask to get to know someone, but the reality is that showing interest in what the other person is saying, or asking questions that come to mind (assuming they're not obtrusive) is a good way to have a plan while still having that flexibility that Heather mentioned. Does that make sense?

I think that fear of being cliché is one of those things that hits us really hard when we're in our teen years. There's this weird pressure to stand out and be individual (but not in a weird way or a way that's "too much") but still be within the norm (but not so much that you're boring). That can really leave you feeling like, regardless of what you do, people are judging you. Something that can help with that is to remember that while plenty of people may form opinions about you, it's okay for only some of those opinions to matter to you; I care more about what my friends think of style than I do some random person in the street, you know?

I will say that some of those fears about being cliché (or weird) tend to fade the further you get from high school; high school is an environment all it's own where little choices take on these big meanings. So, you may find that it easier to express yourself the older you get.
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