What do the movie, Legally Blonde, the D.C. Illusions Museum, and the game Telestrations have in common? They all preach self-confidence in a way that is utterly important for 2e people.
It’s been an awesome vacation week. My Mom is with us for an extended visit. My college son is home, and my middle schooler is on vacation. We’ve maximized family time and eaten well (and a lot!). We took in some Washington, D.C. sites and watched a bunch of movies. While some say, “When you’re a hammer, all the world is a nail”, I do believe there is a common thread between at least three of the activities we’ve done that is relevant to the 2e experience. That common thread is this:
Only you can understand and reveal your true sense of self.
When you try to compromise, it only serves to hurt you and confuse others.
So, it’s winter break 2022, and we walk into the new D.C. Museum of Illusions to find a quote on the wall that makes me take a double take. The quote states:
“Normal is an ILLUSION. What is normal for the SPIDER is chaos for the FLY.” -Charles Addams
First of all, do you know Charles Addams? He’s the cartoonist creator of the Addams family! Now, that’s a 2e family if there ever was one! Secondly, what an awesome message. In speaking with parents and teachers of 2e kids as well as 2e adults, my discussions always incorporate the importance of perspective in personal and professional success.
Funny story. During this vacation, we invited friends over to play games and watch a movie. The first game we chose was Telestrations. This is a crazy fun game where you write or draw and pass your creation to the next person, who tries to guess or draw what you wrote. Think of it as telephone but drawing rather than speaking. Sometimes you have a specific item to draw as described on a card, or in some cases, you get to choose your own image.
Our son – an Astro physics major — chose to draw “Jupiter’s storm.” Though I am the farthest thing from a STEM expert, I grew up in a family where my Mom’s favorite television star was Carl Sagan, a Cornell University professor who taught astronomy and hosted the show, Cosmos. My husband is all about STEM, and clearly so is our son. But one of our guests, an accomplished mental health professional in her own right, had no idea what Jupiter’s storm was. It was incredible to our son. He couldn’t fathom not knowing what each planet looks like in intimate detail. It was such a fabulous example of someone growing up in their own mind and not realizing that some things that seem inherent, organic, literally part of his consciousness since birth, are completely absent from someone else’s experience.
Okay, you’re wondering where the movie, Legally Blonde comes in. First, you must remember the storyline…Reese Witherspoon’s boyfriend dumps her because she isn’t smart enough and he’s expected to go to Harvard Law School and run for political office. He tells her he needs someone serious. Witherspoon’s character is the sorority president with an unlimited credit card, she plans parties and majors in fashion. She’s bubbly and adorable and everyone loves her. But they don’t see her intelligence. Witherspoon’s character figures out how to get into Harvard Law School and literally runs circles around her former boyfriend. I asked my thirteen-year-old what he thought the message of the movie was and he nailed it. He said, “It means never to doubt yourself and not to judge someone by their appearance.”
Here’s the bottom line for all the 2e people out there. You are looking through your own lens based on your own personal history of accumulated knowledge and experiences. Likely you’ve made a more intensive effort to learn about topics of interest than your neurotypical peers. You’ve also likely had more negative feedback socially than your peers. Because your insatiable curiosity and your sensitivity to more details around you might have made you appear awkward, out of sync, or different, you absorbed that messaging.
NONE OF THAT MATTERS.
The most important thing is to be true to yourself. Measure your success by staying loyal to your interests, beliefs, and morals. The more you try to be someone else’s version of you, the less happy you will be and the more awkward and unhappy you will become.
That being said, if you don’t take the time to learn about others’ perspectives, you might not understand why they do or do not say certain things, do certain things, or make certain comments. Just as you can’t assume someone else gets you, you must make the effort to get to know someone else before judging them.
The credo of The Addams Family is “Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc” or “We Gladly Feast on Those Who Would Subdue Us.” While I do not endorse the feasting part of this quote, as I believe it was intended, I wholeheartedly subscribe to resisting changing yourself or making yourself less than. While remembering and being who you are, do take the time to find out about others, so you can relate or not – but you can make that choice based on knowledge and filtered through your authentic self.