Socially Unacceptable Post 25: Face Blindness

I have facial blindness. It’s hugely embarrassing as it makes me seem supercilious or snobbish. –Emily Maitlis

I have never been able to properly recognize people. I need context and constant exposure to the person. And I mean constant. Even then, it’s dicey. For example, if I saw someone somewhere I didn’t expect, like my mom at my college, there is no guarantee I would recognize her.

It used to bother me, before I had a name for it. Face blindness. Being unable to recognize facial features that most people rely on to identify people. Now I tell new friends, ok, if I see you again and I am not expecting to, I may not realize who you are. This is just who I am. I can’t help it. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that you don’t matter to me. It happens with everyone.

I had someone tell me once it was because I don’t care, which is why I always emphasize to people that I do in fact care. I care a lot.

Some people do take it personally. But most understand. That’s the funny thing I’ve discovered about people. Give them the chance, and sometimes they will genuinely try to understand. The bullying I had experienced as a child convinced me people are assholes, but that’s not always the case.

But think about it. You’re working a new job with new people. You can’t recognize your boss for months, and then only if he is in his cubicle. You can’t recognize any coworkers, even when they recognize and say hi to you. You don’t recognize the people who trained you. All you can do is smile at every person you come across and hope if they know you they will speak first.

It’s hard, but not impossible to deal with. I explain myself over and over.

It was a long time before I realized people could actually picture other people they knew, with their faces visible, in their heads. I could never do that.

Don’t be fooled though. It isn’t because I don’t care that I don’t say hi. I genuinely do not know who you are. But I do care.

Post 25 in Socially Unacceptable: The Daily Life of a Queer Schizophrenic Wreck (2022)

This is an autobiographical series about my life, something I have wanted to do for a long time. I intend to add new content daily.

For the whole series, follow this link.

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