Eater of Trees

Attention Seeking, Identity Instability, and “Special Snowflakes”

Posted on: October 4, 2011

[Cross posted–with some edits–from Fuck Yeah Borderline People.]

So one of the traits of borderlineness is a pathological need for attention.  Like we’re not talking “you want people to pay attention to you” here, either, we’re talking “if people ignore you, you have a psychotic meltdown and hide in the closet sobbing because everyone hates you forever” or “if you go too long without talking to other people (like, twenty minutes or so), you’ll start developing severe disassociative symptoms, such as, say, random strangers walking into your head to help keep you company.”

Like, you may have noticed I’m three people.  Yeah one of those showed up because I was bored as fuck because it was 4AM and nobody was awake, and because the person who showed up thought it would be amusing to, well, show up, and the other showed up after I spent a weekend convinced that none of my friends cared about me.  Frequently sobbing in a box it my bathroom.

(This isn’t to say multiplicity and borderlineness are always connected, it should be noted, but there seems to be some correlation and in my case and several other people’s, they definitely are connected.)

Another thing borderlineness tends to do is result in general instability of your identity, or a tendency to define yourself based on what other people think.  And again, we’re not talking, “you like to go along with your peer group” here.  We’re talking “You are more or less incapable of believing your own intuitions unless someone else validates them.”  Like, for example! I went through a stage where I was convinced that my periodic attraction to men was completely irrelevant; obviously I couldn’t really be queer because it just didn’t count.  Until I mentioned it to one of my friends and they invited me to the LGBT support group.

(Obvious note here: this was before I realized I was trans so I would’ve been percieving attraction men as gay and to women as het, even though the opposite is more accurate)

Or, this can lead to situations where another person disagrees with you, and so obviously they are right about things, and you’re just mistaken.  Because there’s no way you could be write about something if other people disagree.  Even if something is say, your gender identity that the other person has NO WAY AT ALL of knowing.

Anyway, this whole thing can lead to an attachment to labels, and a desire to label absolutely everything about yourself.  Because unless there’s a socially accepted label, obviously that personality trait doesn’t really exist!  And a desire to explore EVERY POSSIBLE identity since, after all, you’re basically incapable of telling who you are.  Even if you’re obviously one thing one moment, wait a few weeks and your self doubt and inability to process your identity will show up again, and WAIT MAYBE NOT.

This all leads to a tendency to have idiosyncratic, and frequently unstable identities.  Or, in my case, its like that one species of crab that picks up random sediment and glues it onto itself to make a shell. (And I maaaay have gotten that metaphor from someone else.  You also tend to pick up personality traits randomly from everyone around you, since, after all, you’re not you, you’re them.)

And so I have a list of all the brain issues I have, for example, and it has nineteen entries.  Some of which are really not typical (sharing your head with other people, for example)

What this ends up doing, is it makes other people decide you’re trying to be super unique for attention.  Because, honestly, you are trying to get attention.  Wanting attention is a normal human thing, though the psychotic meltdowns are a bit less so.  And you are trying to establish yourself as an individual, because, well, you’re basically incapable of it, so you just don’t stop trying.

But see, labels like Special Snowflake are then thrown at you, because obviously no NORMAL person would be transfeminine AND autistic AND plural AND have a dozen other varieties of neurodivergence.  So clearly you’re just trying to get attention! And attention seeking is terrible forever! (sarcasm)

…and yes, “special snowflake” is used like that, trust me, I’ve seen it happen first hand.

(This is not the only way in which it is problematic, it should be noted.  The term is also inevitably extremely gendered and is frequently used against people, especially women, who attempt to differentiate themselves from the mainstream culture.)


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