Hello folks, today’s post is almost entirely centred around a metaphor that I came up with at 1:58am on 24th December. I know the day and time exactly because I have a voice note of me attempting to explain it. I have been meaning to make a post about it since then but have been procrastinating. UNTIL NOW! So, as of the 1st April (the April Fool’s joke perhaps being my apparent inability to follow up on simple tasks, even though I want to do them), I am finally writing this ruddy post; only 99 days later. I’m counting it as a success as it is < 100 days.
I was informed that there is a phrase “you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs”, and given it made 0 sense in the context of the conversation (the conversation being how I was frustrated at not being able to join in certain activities due to my being autistic), I queried it’s meaning. I was then told that it is a metaphor, roughly translating to “in order to achieve a certain goal, you have to make smaller sacrifices along the way”. The omelette is the desired outcome, and the broken eggs are the sacrifices one must make. However, I remembered watching a QI episode where it was revealed that you can indeed make an omelette without breaking eggs. This memory, combined with my new found understanding of the meaning behind the phrase, all conflated with the context of the conversation, sparked a thought in my mind which has lead to a genuine change in my outlook on life.
The general idea behind making this egg-encased omelette is that you have to break the membrane separating the white and the yolk by spinning the egg, before boiling it and opening it to reveal a cooked omelette inside. Granted it will be poorly seasoned and without any of the usual additions, but it got me thinking: if the phrase is wrong and you can make an omelette without breaking eggs by being slightly more creative, are there ways in which I would be able to join in on activities otherwise inaccessible if I applied my creativity to the problem?
It occurred to me that while I might lack common sense, a basic sense of safety, the ability to consistently read social cues, a good tolerance for loud noises, or an ability to create enough serotonin for my brain to function properly—to name but a few—I am great at out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving. I pride myself on my ability to come up with solutions to problems, even if those solutions are perhaps more, um, avant-garde than is strictly necessary. My flatmate and I still store our chopping boards in a repurposed ring binder and my general leaving-the-house bag is frankly the epitome of planning and organisation.
They might seem like inconsequential things but having our chopping boards stored like this means our surfaces are left clear and we didn’t need to buy a chopping board holder, and my bag organisation means I can go out into the unpredictable, loud, bright world and have everything I could possibly need in case of a crisis. If the kitchen is messy I struggle to cook food for myself because my brain won’t allow me to proceed in a messy environment, and without my emergency supplies, I couldn’t leave the house with confidence that I will be okay. These things seriously affect my life. Even if they seem trivial to other people, to me they’re no yolk. (Joke – egg pun) I’ve had to be collected from town by my friends because I got a meltdown in a store and couldn’t do anything, but now I have my sensory aids and everything I need if I run into a problem whilst out and about.
I started to think about some of the things I have resigned myself to not ever doing and tried to come up with ways I could make them work for me. The most obvious example was clubbing. Now, I feel it’s also important to mention that clubbing is not something I am particularly interested in doing. It sounds quite horrible and boring and I’m not overly sad I can’t do it. However, what I am sad about is that I don’t get the chance to go out with my friends late at night to dance. I haven’t really had the experience of getting ready with them beforehand and the excitement and anticipation of that sort of night out. Somehow, getting ready to go to the theatre doesn’t quite feel the same. My initial thought was that I could get ready with my friends and then when they go to the club, I could just go home instead. I then decided that me having to then get undressed at home by myself, while they all go without me was slightly tragic, so I scrapped that idea. My girlfriend then suggested that we try a silent disco and that idea was a good one! It would allow me to go to a place with the same “vibe” whilst being in control of the biggest sensory trigger for me: the loud music! I wear contact lenses that turn darker in bright light, and combined with my sunglasses I could control the light my eyes were receiving. She then said that we can go with the purpose of me trying it out with no pressure on us having to stay, meaning she would be with me and helping me figure out where my limits are without me worrying abut ruining someone else’s night. Thus, we’re going to go to a silent disco together at some point!
I’m not saying that suddenly I will turn into an absolute party animal, nor is it exactly the same as going to a nightclub, but I get to experience something close and not feel resentful towards my condition because I feel hindered by being autistic. In all likelihood it will be a nice night out but nothing particularly amazing, however I want to be able to say that I’ve tried it! When I talk to my non-autistic friends about it they tend to say things like “you’re not missing much, it’s just an excuse to dance, which you can do anywhere”, but however well intended, that’s slightly missing the point. I know that I can dance wherever I want, I frequently do whenever I am cooking or tidying, what I want is to have the ability to go to those places and experience that setting. In much the same way that being told not to do something makes people utterly determined to do it, not being able to go clubbing means that I really want to at least try.
I messaged my group chat with my autistic friends and asked how they deal with feeling left out. They gave some wonderful advice and support. The consensus was that I have to accept the limitations of the condition and stick to what I want to do. It was pointed out that the places I can’t go to wouldn’t be fun because they are inherently painful for me, and so making peace with that fact is key to letting go of my own internalised expectations for myself. One of my friends says she stays at home with her friend’s pet while they go out and has a nice evening in. She doesn’t feel left out because she sees them beforehand and makes the choice to not go along because she won’t enjoy it. I liked that mentality. I think it’s important to go through the phase of feeling aggrieved by what you cannot do as it is important to explore your feelings and frustrations. However I am now ready to move into my “I don’t give a damn” phase, and put my own comfort first, safe in the fact that my friends don’t love me less and we will have plenty of bonding opportunities another time.
There are other situations that I am figuring out, ranging from potentially travelling by myself to actually maintaining a semi-decent sleep schedule. There are issues that arise in lots of different and unexpected places because I’m autistic, but I am now resolute to work out a way around them. My creative thinking is likely correlated with my autism because both are to do with how my brain works. Thus, having my autistic brain means I am the best person to go to for storage solutions and I’m great at running role-play campaigns such as D&D because I think well “on the spot”. There’s definitely a give-and-take with the condition and so I am going to make my brain think of solutions to the very problems it creates. In other words, I am going to make some omelettes without breaking any eggs.
p.s. The irony of this whole metaphor is that I hate eggs.