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Anonymous

Updated: Jun 9

Why staying anonymous for the time being feels like the safest (and therefore most comfortable) way to share my thoughts and creations.


 

I don’t like attention.

I mean, I kinda do, in certain contexts, but in real life I just don’t know how to handle it. Which is one reason why I’m doing this whole Autball thing anonymously.

I used to perform on stage, believe it or not, and I wanted to be a famous musician for a long time. I didn’t necessarily need to be part of a group, but I wanted to be in one anyway because that way I wouldn’t have to have my name out there front and center. I thought of other ways to conceal or at least downplay my identity if I got anywhere, like animated music videos or a stage name. I even wished I was cool enough to pull off Daft Punk helmets.

The thing is that I absolutely loved the attention that came with being onstage while I was on it, and I like hearing that people like what I do. It’s just that I have a hard time hearing about it the rest of the time, when I’m not in the moment, when I’m just trying to be me. For school performances, I was satisfied with the applause and the backstage back pats, and deeply uncomfortable with the compliments I received for days after as I walked through the halls on my way to class. There are a bunch of reasons for this that are less than healthy, for sure, but that’s just how it is.

So when I had the idea to do Autball, I was like, “Yes! Something I can do without anyone knowing who I am!” I know better than to assume it won’t matter to anybody who I am (although I can still hope, right?). And the reason I know better than to expect no one to care is because of my lifelong experience with being accused of seeking attention while actively trying to avoid attention.

I was situationally mute and extremely shy as a kid. And of course, because most adults don’t respect children’s wishes, I was constantly pushed to come out of my shell and "be more confident." It was all just for attention, right?

I started being abused by a teacher, and I thought that maybe if I could just make it through the day unnoticed, I could avoid being abused that day. I also did this with all the subsequent teachers who weren’t outright abusive but just plain didn’t like me for whatever reason.

Then there were bullies, and the advice I was always given was to ignore them and they’ll leave me alone. So I did my best to not “make myself a target” in the hopes that simply not drawing attention to myself would make them want to bully me less.

There was constant commentary (read: criticism) at home too, about pretty much everything: what I ate, what I looked like, how many friends I had, how much I slept, how I dressed, how “stubborn” and “too sensitive” I was…the list goes on. It was all just out of concern, of course. Except when it wasn’t.

So is it any wonder that I just wanted to disappear? That I tried to make myself small enough to go unnoticed everywhere I went? That all I ever wanted in life was to just fucking exist in peace for one goddamn second?

Is it any wonder that I don’t like attention?

Attention, even for doing something good or that people like, puts a target on your back in my world. I was a high achiever academically and I excelled in music. I never shrank from those things because they were the only things that made me feel good about myself and I desperately needed something to do that for me. But even though they pleased some of the people around me (mostly adults), they were also just another thing for my peers to come after me for.

So I like to be creative, I do like hearing that people like it, but it feels unsafe to me at the same time. That’s why staying anonymous here for the time being feels like the safest (and therefore most comfortable) way to share my thoughts and creations. I know for a fact that there will be people who assume I am staying anonymous for attention, because that’s just how some people think. Just like I know for a fact there are still shy, quiet, anxious little kids out there who are being accused of “doing it for attention.”

What I’d love is for everyone to give people like us a break. To take our reluctance to be noticed at face value.

To let us just fucking exist in peace.

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Guest
Sep 16, 2022

I've just discovered your cartoons, which I think are brilliant! I work as a special needs coordinator in a school and I am guilty of some of those bad IEP targets and unhelpful social skills groups. I would like to use your cartoons to help my staff better support pupils with Autism. Would that be OK? I will credit you.

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Guest
Sep 15, 2022

This post is so so so so relatable. I am also autistic, and also extremely private, yet at the same time also want my creativity and other contributions engaged with or appreciated. I've thought a great deal about how to do this as well, from disguises, to avatars, to any medium offering a layer of both anonymity and self-expression. Attention is always dangerous, a threat vector, yet the opposite can also result in isolation. It's difficult to navigate, and to explain, not to mention exhausting. I'm happy to have found your Twitter, and website. It gives me comfort to know there are those like us in the world.

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Guest
Aug 19, 2022

Hey, just discovered you this morning and wanted to say "you rock." I'm not autistic (I don't think), but I seem to have had the same childhood as you, but with art and writing instead of music. I'm the mom of a 13-yo with "Level 2" autism. He's uh-fucking-mazing as a human and has taught me SO MUCH about how absurdly ridiculous neurotypical society can be. Anyhoo, KEEP MAKING CARTOONS.

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