Dec 05, 2011 0 Share

Social Integration Going Once, Going Twice ...


Woman holding "auction" sign.
iStockphoto

No. Just two little letters. So easy to spell, but so hard to say. At least for me anyway. Yesterday I received a call from the executive director at Cameron's school, asking if I would consider being this year's auction chair. Of course I said yes. But now I'm wondering if it's going to cost me months of psychotherapy. Am I crazy to take this on? I have no idea how to chair a school auction! Aren't auctions a bit like the Olympic Games, as in they're supposed to be "the best ever"? I assume the chairperson is expected to top the previous year's fundraising, make sure everyone has more fun than at any prior school event, and build a sense of community for those newcomers in the midst. I know how to throw a party, but when it comes to meeting the above expectations I get a little nervous.

All this pressure has me thinking: How would Cameron feel if he were in my shoes?  Would he be nervous? If you don't abide by societal norms, does that mean you don't feel the pressure to live up to expectations society has of us? I don't desire the freedom to belch and scratch in public, but I'm finding myself daydreaming about what it would be like to not care what others think of my actions. I'd love the freedom to just do what I want, without regard to how others feel towards me. Just for a day.

What is it like to be Cameron in society? I would really like to know. Is he making an effort just because he thinks that's what I want him to do, or does he have an internal desire to fit in? I can't answer that question with any degree of certainty. I can't even tell you whether or not Cameron realizes he's different from most people. I've told him he's different, but did that hurt his feelings? Does he care?

My gut tells me that Cameron wants to fit in. While at a restaurant recently, I asked the waiter for his recommendation between two starters I was considering. When it came time for dessert, Cameron asked the waiter which sounded better to him: a selection of ice cream and sorbets or chocolate soufflé? When the waiter left, Cameron told me he had seen me ask the waiter for help, so he decided to do it too. I was thrilled he asked the waiter, and didn't ask me to chime in. Of course, I had my answer ready for him, but was pleasantly surprised I didn't need to offer it. (The soufflé was delicious, by the way.) 

So maybe when it comes to dealing with my anxiety about the school auction, I should borrow a page from Cameron's guide. I should find someone that sets a good example of how to be successful, and emulate that person. Whether or not Cameron emulates because he innately wants to fit in, or because he's been conditioned to do so by years of prompting doesn't really matter much to me. The fact he makes the effort is what matters.