Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Expect the Unexpected

I know it's been six days since my last entry.  The wait for an entry may be that long depending on what's happening.  Most of the time you can expect 1-2 weekly blog entries.

I have had anger management issues over the years.  Doesn't mean I'm totally hostile, as for the most part I'm docile.  Problem is that I'm implosive.  It was not until meeting with a psychologist in college that I figured out that the chunk of the rationale behind my anger issues is simply one thing many AS folks don't take very well to: negative unpredictability.  When something happens that I totally don't see coming, I feel blindsided, and I react. This happens too often, as I often play out scenarios in my head and get stuck to them more than I should.

For instance, there was a time I took an exam in college and thought I did pretty good on it, thinking I scored 85-90.  Got it back and I only had a 73.  From there I went on to embarrass myself during the class, going on an attack of all the questions and trying to find every reason why it was wrong, asking hollow questions of "why" and "how" when the answers were in front of me.  I just thought I knew and didn't know that day, but refused to accept it as I already had in my head that I would score near the projected mark.  If I had thought there was a good chance I did badly, I would kick myself but I wouldn't have a mini-outburst like I did in that actual class environment.  The same result would happen after each of the two scenarios, where I would talk to the prof one-on-one about the exam and get tips on improving.  Thankfully, my professors didn't think I was totally psycho (or at least that's what they told me); they just thought I was somewhat intense.

Then there's the part of the unexpected that parents and psychologists focus on so much: the change in plans.  I can deal with these well enough when there is some flexibility expected or if I am only half-excited about something.  However, if I have a vision set up in my head, then there may be a problem.  Just a few weeks back, I was back in my hometown and went with my parents to see Avatar.  We didn't quite get to the theater in time to find three seats, and I had a conniption searching the theater desperately for three seats, because I expected that we would all sit together as a rule of thumb.  After the scare of embarrassment from the parents, I calmed down and took a seat on my own and let them sit together where two seats were available.  However, I was in a state where the impossible was happening, and I was willing to go through a tantrum to keep it from happening...which ultimately failed.  There is also the abrupt change in plans when I am excited and looking forward to something, which became a big sit down conversation with me for those who are close to me.  This is because they knew I likely would not deal with the news well unless it was totally explained to me.

Often I relegate my life to a script inside my head, with a little room for improvisation where I see fit.  Sometimes the scripts are long-term, other times just for a routine part of the day.  This leaves me for a lot of room to be disappointed, as I cannot control the actions of others (ultimately, nor should I).  I never actually wrote down about what I expected from life, except for those goals lists that all people end up doing at various points in the life cycle.  The problem I have with writing down goals are that I consider these goals to be realistic and concrete.  When it feels like the carpet is pulled out from under me, I feel totally screwed and go from this lovable sweetheart of a person to a rampant whiner, complete with baby rattle.  Now this isn't to say I do it often today, but it's a hard part to control.  I can get mad at the big events not happening as planned, or at the smallest white lie going awry.

The way I got around this was through psychology and a series of talks, but it's not something that will just go away, as pessimistic as that may sound.  It's really a matter of me learning to accept that when I play scenarios out in my head, they may not always happen.  Instead, I end up playing the best and worse case scenarios in my head in advance to help me out.  For example, I won't always get super confident that a girl will say yes to a date; I will picture what happens if she says she's got a man, if she is just afraid to let me down, or if she is going to jump back scared and then run into the night...this way I'll know it's coming and won't yell "I'm not trying to be creepy!"  Seriously, though, playing different 'scripts' in my head is the backup plan that I never implemented as a kid (I hated backup plans the same way I hated doing more than one rough draft to a paper).  It's also how I have managed to keep myself sane through the idea that a change can happen suddenly or that what I thought would surely take place did not.  Helps me to keep from that spontaneous combustion moment known as implosion.

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