As I contemplate the process of participant recruitment that is about to come and the necessary exposure it brings, I ask, am I ready for the scrutiny, the likelihood of judgement? I know that I do not want to hide my awkwardly embodied self, my apparently unbalanced set of cognitive skills, but to celebrate them, to learn and maybe to help others celebrate and learn as well. I have always believed in the power of diversity, always thought of myself as one of the diverse, often felt stared at, sometimes accepted, often left alone, and often choosing to be so. But here I am putting myself out there in a way that does not involve the mask of the teacher, the tech-head, or the social performer. Here I am exploring my newly named reality in the full gaze of others and wondering if they or I will be able to handle it.
I am conscious that my own exposure is twofold because many of those I will recruit into my creative projects and invite to participate in my research as observer or observed, will know me in some other, more defined role, the man/musician, autist/artist, teacher/student. How are they going to reconcile being asked to observe, scrutinise and report on a part of me that is fairly carefully hidden? How can I point out those things without consciously un-hiding them, and therefore deliberately exposing them to things that I don't particularly like about myself?
And then there are those aspects that I'm already self-conscious of, already fearing exposure. I think I'm more afraid of the artist exposure than that of the autist - perhaps because I can clearly explain that I am learning about the Aspie self. I'm supposed to already know the artist, to be confident and competent, a leader, a teacher, a director, a Master. Can I really ask others to join in the orgy of self-conscious exposure? To look somehow voyeuristically at me-self, at them-self? Can I risk the tenuous relationships I have with these people who know one side of me, for the sake of my knowledge of another?
I have already decided to keep those closest to me out of the spotlight, assuming their risk to be the greatest, but what of them, the partner, the son, the daughter, the mother, the father, the sister, the growing, the grown, the loved? What will they think of me, of the man who slowly appears from inside the shell? Will they be hurt that they didn't know me before, that their vision too weak, my armour too strong - or will they prove less fickle than I, more worthy of my own honour, more easy to love?
- Evoking Anxiety: Are evocative autoethnography and an impairment in empathy an impossible combination?
- Knowledge is Power: It is possible for someone with alexithymic traits and difficulties with empathy to learn the skills, especially with music as a catalyst.
- Theatrics: The theatre has been a school of meaning-making. Layer on layer of elements to the same end.
- Being there: Families and friends stand or fall by their unity.
- Truth ...: As a research method, autoethnography seeks to be trustworthy and offer insight rather than empirical validity.
- What will I want to know next?: This document will live on. What are my own hopes for learning from it?
- Psychological stress: Asking people to observe and report on their cognitive selves can pose ethical dilemmas