Helmet on For Safety Selfies

Helmet on For Safety Selfies

My relationship with vanity is strange. Its pressure is so overwhelming at times that the idea of people looking at me in a personal setting will absolutely stop me from doing something. Something like maybe – meeting up with people who I talk with on social media. Knowing that they would be looking at me in close proximity makes me back away from the idea more often than not. Not always, but a lot.

A few months ago, I had a panic attack at work. I paced around my office clawing at hives and had difficulty breathing among other symptoms. When it was over I felt completely exhausted like I’d just run a half-marathon. This was all simply because I had to have a headshot taken for a project. That seems silly now and it was embarrassing then but that’s what happened. Just one of my many wonderful quirks. Don’t I sound charming?

Wearing a helmet and riding gear insulates me from those vulnerable feelings. I’m there, but you can’t see all of me. That makes me feel better.

I don’t know when I got so weird. It would probably serve me better to not share these shortcomings with you. They make me sound crazy, I know. But maybe someone else out there needs to know they aren’t alone in their crackpot-ery. High-five, nutjobs! 

17 Replies to “Helmet on For Safety Selfies”

  1. I’m on the autistic spectrum. It would have been nice if somebody had figured it out & told me when I was a kid, rather than having to work it out for myself in my 40’s, I’d have had a far less stressful life. Or perhaps not – back when I was a kid, a diagnosis like that could have seen me shuffled off into a ‘Special School’ with all that that would have implied for my future prospects. I found discovering computers, and later online interaction via online services that predated the internet, had a massively positive impact on me. My brain and computers are wired the same way, so as somebody who would be essentially unemployable in any other milieu I got a ready made career path handed to me, one that seems to be particularly compatible to those of us on the spectrum, meaning that the industry is far more tolerant of and acclimatised to our foibles…

    Online interaction, as limited as it was and mostly still is for the ‘normal’ by the constraints of 16 bit text , and where you have to telegraph jokes with emoticons because you can’t do the non-verbal nuance that normal people use to communicate , was like magic for me. suddenly I was able to communicate with people on a level playing field, and establish relationships with people in cyberspace, people I was glad to call my friends. Because what they would have called a limitation of the medium, I called business as usual. And it does make it quite easy to forget that you don’t do social situations face to face at all well and you can mortally offend multiple people without even realising in one short face to face interaction, Because autistic. spectrum disorders are fun, especially when you don’t realise you have one and keep thinking ‘I’ve got this human interaction thing down now, I’m clearly a people person after all’ and then.. err… yeah… the list of people I have in the past called good friends who would probably have said the same about me until we actually interacted offline & they decided they didn’t want to give me the time of day any more is… err… rather longer than I’d care to mention. Interesting, because the reverse is normally true – plenty of apparently perfectly nice people turn into utterly vile toxic scum when you give them an internet connection…

    I have a laundry list of lifelong weird quirks, foibles and inexplicable habits & behavioural traits that are all box tick items on a list of ‘101 ways to know if your kid is autististic’ and are (almost) all still with me at 50 years old, and the biggest change that working out where my issues come from, is that now I have just resolved to embrace them as part of who I am, because on balance I have a damn good life, and the things I don’t have because of my weirdness are not things I want any more after unpleasant experiences trying repeatedly and failing to get them put me off, or things I never wanted but worried that I probably ought to. None of my personal weirdness is hurting anybody, including myself, so I just give myself a break these days. I’m allowed to do harmless things that are obviously & demonstrably irrational if they make my wonky brain happy, just _because_ they make my wonky brain happy, & I’m allowed to actively avoid things I don’t enjoy and am rubbish at because why the f*** not, I’m not defined by other people’s expectations & if I was I’d be a sore disappointment anyway,… .

    TL;DR – If your personal brand of weird isn’t actually hurting anybody else, including yourself, then embrace it, and acknowledge it’s who you actually are… I did, I’m happier as a result.

    *Disclaimer: If you follow this advice and end up living in a packing case under a motorway/freeway off-ramp wearing only clothing made from carpet off-cuts and old newspapers, I accept no responsibility…

    1. Thank you for being willing to share this, Ken. It was really eyeopening and thought-provoking.

      I work in tech too and in my little universe, I see it populated by people who are a little socially awkward, nerdy or otherwise better with code/machines than they are with interpersonal skills. I suppose technology is a safe haven for us weirdos 😉

  2. You are not the only person in the world that is self conscious and worried about what others think (might think).

    You are not the only person in the world to get hives and a panic attack.

    You are not the only one that feels safer in a full face helmet, jacket and sunglasses.

    Its hard to be yourself, despite what the Beatles sang.

    You rock girl, please don’t ever change.

  3. We all have quirks. And fears. The trick is to find ways to not let them limit us. For me, it’s shyness which causes physiological reactions like the one you describe. The idea of entering a room full of strangers — for even a party — terrifies me, yet I push through the fear to not lose a chance to meet interesting new people.

  4. I’m kind of the same way, I don’t take a lot of selfies and you won’t see my Instagram or Facebook full of them. If I go out on motorcycle trips, you will see pics of either one of my bikes against a pretty backdrop….I figure my bikes are more interesting to look at!

    Hi five to Ken….it takes time to figure things out. One thing I was reflecting on recently is that in our culture, it seems like it’s frowned upon to talk about our struggles. I relate to people so much better when they talk about something that they struggled with or are struggling with. There’s always that one friend or person who complains all of the time and does absolutely nothing about it, but I think if we talk about what we’re going through and how we’re trying to solve it, we make ourselves so much more relatable to each other.

    We all have quirks! They’re what make us lovable 🙂

    1. I agree. I rarely take a selfie not from any sort of shyness but the bike looks so much nicer in the scene than me grinning like a fool.

  5. Wow, I really feel for each of you suffering from the various quirks, but it certainly wouldn’t make me avoid a chance to meet you!

    I guess I suffer from what I can only label ‘laziness’, and that is why most of my photos have me in a flipped up helmet, while everyone else took theirs off LOL!

  6. “Don’t I sound charming?”…

    Fuzzy, you sound human–and being human puts you in the same boat as the rest of us: The Good Ship Crackpot.

    Last week I started with a new employer. It was an incredible opportunity to work in sales for an amazing company in an industry I’d known as a manager of production for the previous sixteen years. The only problem?… In sales you gotta shake many more hands than you have to as a manager of production, and–well–I have chronically sweaty hands. And I mean SWEATY!… I panic at the prospect of shaking someone’s hand, and–of course–that just worsens my curse.

    “Hi, my name is Ry. You might think I seem normal and friendly and maybe even charming, but I can change all that: Here, grab my sopping dishrag of a hand. GRAB IT!” 😀

      1. Thank you, friend Fuzzy: The new job has just been amazing–freakin’ amazing–so far.

        Sadly, the hand wipe maneuver is no match for the un-awesome power of my tree frog / gecko grips… (le sigh)

        I’m counting the days ’til the fist bump becomes common in business. 😉 Oawhh-yeah!

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