Hello, My Name Isn’t… Name Tags and Neurodivergence

I’m gonna start doing this whenever I have to wear a goddamn name tag.

As a rule, I try to research the things I talk about here. Either by rooting around on the internet, perusing journals for some peer-reviewed studies, or crowd-sourcing on A Socially Awkward Weirdo‘s Facebook page (give it a follow if you want to join in on the fun). And, I’ve done that but without much success. It may be that my search terms are off but all Google shows me is crap about “labels”. Which is some (mostly) neurotypical bullshit. Knowing what the fuck’s going on with you–aka labels–is a good thing no matter what these “allies” might say. On the plus side, I did find these cool badges on Etsy, so there’s that. Anyway, I threw the question of name tags out to my ND peeps to see what might come back. One them responded that they weren’t fans but did like name tags on others so they didn’t have to remember names in large groups. It’s a good point. Anything we cand do to reduce anxiety is always helpful. Outside of that, however, I feel there’s a good bit of fuckery when it comes to this shit. At the very least, I think name tags and neurodivergence mix like oil and goddamn water.

Just Kidding… Or Maybe Not

My discomfort with name tags came up a couple of weeks ago. Several years back, my church decided that it would be a great idea to give everyone a name tag in the hopes it would make socializing easier. I suppose it works, though I’m probably the last person to accurately judge that because I am so abysmally awful at the social shit. That’s not helped by that, while I have one, I never wear it. That’s relevant here because the Sunday in question, I was talking with some friends and one of them noticed I wasn’t wearing mine. I joked (sort of) that it was because I can’t get in trouble if people don’t know who I am. I say that I was “sort of” joking because I was also totally serious.

Foot-in-Mouth Disease: One Reason Name Tags and Neurodivergence Mix Like Oil and Water

I was serious because have a talent for saying exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. And that, my friends, is a major fucking shortcut to getting in trouble. Now, you might be saying to yourself that the best way around that would be, oh I don’t know, not saying the wrong thing. Geez, why didn’t I think of that? Oh wait, I did. Unfortunately, that simple fix just isn’t a thing for my geeky ass. Whether it’s from the social obliviousness brought on by the autism or the fucking rabid impulsivity that’s part of my ADHD, I couldn’t say. I suspect, however, that it’s a potent combination of both. These chucklefucks come together like the Planeteers summoning Captain Planet. Only, instead of an ecological superhero, they call up Captain Clueless, an asshole whose “superpower” is the ability to fit his foot into his mouth in new and interesting ways.

Control Issues: Neurodivergence and Name Tags

Besides getting in trouble, privacy is also a factor in my name tag reluctance. I’m a fairly private person and I’m not comfortable with tossing my info out there for the world to see. I know that sounds weird since you’re reading this on a blog, online, where I’m plastering this shit all over the place. But I decide what you see here, what you find out about me and my life. Because this shit is really about control, not being shy or hiding stuff. Yes, I have control issues. Fucking duh. When most of your life feels like a goddamn runaway train, you tend to exert control over anything that you possibly can. Even seemingly silly ass things like wearing a name tag or making it easier for people to talk to you. Which is a lot of fucking words to say that if I want you to know something about me, I’ll tell you.

Flying Under the Radar

You may be thinking that sounds kind of over the top. And, if you’re an extrovert/neurotypical person, I guess I can understand you thinking that. Well, as much as I can understand anything you fucking weird-asses think/say/do. Honestly, you guys are pretty much a mystery to me (but not wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma). I suspect that goes both ways, so let me see if I can clear things up on this end: my ultimate goal in any gathering of more than one or two people is to be as unnoticed as humanly fucking possible. Mostly because happy endings and being noticed usually don’t go together in my experience. So, anything that helps me fly under the radar is good.

It Could Be Fine, It Could Be a Disaster. Who the Fuck Knows?

So, what’s the takeaway here? I don’t like name tags and, given the chance, I will almost always decline those motherfuckers. They’re uncomfortable and intrusive and means I might have to talk to people. I mean, for me, a name tag is like holding up a sign that says “Open for business” and that business is socializing with people I don’t know and might not want anything to do with. Not that a name tag’s absence stops some strangers from striking up conversations in weird goddamn places, but that’s a story for another time. But, if you see me and I’m actually wearing a name tag, it could possibly be safe to chat me up. Just know that I could also be having a low-level panic attack because I was forced to wear it. That means any interaction will be weird and awkward and total goddamn disaster. The only way to find out which one is to ask. And that damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation, beloved, is small view into what it’s like being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world. You’re fucking welcome.

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