How I Feel When People Say “It’s Not That Difficult”

A man sitting on the bank of a body of water watching a very vivid, orange-hued sunsetIn my life there has been one constant that’s been worse than any other event: When someone says, “But Aaron, it’s not that difficult!” When those words are uttered I’m devastated.

Here’s why they hurt: Do you think I’m not aware that it’s easy for others? Do you think I want things that come easy for others to be difficult for myself? I’m a hard enough critic of myself as is but when others point it out and then think I can simply use willpower to make what is difficult easy is, well, damaging.

Do I want things to be easy? Of course I do. I don’t want to create confusion as to why I can do some things great and many things not as well. It has to be confusing as to why there can be this great chasm between being great and simply not being able to do it no matter how hard I try, but when another person uses a tone and those words of telling me that it shouldn’t be difficult, well, to be perfectly honest it creates a storm of self-hatred.

I know certain things are difficult and I know when these things occur I often retreat. I don’t know how others socialize so well, and at social functions I look at the world in utter awe and wonder, “How do these people do it?” They make the impossible seem so easy and I have such a hard enough time talking to people I know.

Now, for those that know me, they won’t think twice about it, but if someone didn’t and saw me, and let’s say they’ve seen me present, they would be confused because there’s a person that has great speaking ability appearing socially paralyzed so why is it so difficult?

I get it, I understand the confusion others must face when encountering Asperger’s and maybe a select few will think that by saying, “it’s not that difficult” they are offering the best form of motivation possible. However, this isn’t the case and the seeds of self-loathing are planted.

There’s a fine line between encouraging words and words that can do harm and telling me what is and isn’t difficult doesn’t help me one bit.

So, what would I say to people who tell me “It’s not that difficult”?

I’d begin with the difficulty of trying to filter everything out in a room be it the noise of the electronics, the voices from other rooms, the noises outside, and the potential hum of the lights. I’d talk about the anxiety walking into a building and wondering if that person, or that person, would stop and talk to me. What would they say? How would I respond? How long would we talk? I’d tell them I’d analyze every potential encounter whether it occurred or not, and then stress as I passed them on whether I should’ve said hello only to redo the whole process once I passed the next person.

I’d talk about the fear of eye contact, the draining nature of experiencing positional warfare, and the constant fear of being a nuisance to anyone and everyone because that’s how I often see myself.

So, you can tell me certain things shouldn’t be difficult but I only wish you could walk a day in my shoes.

Of course, to some, this is simply an overreaction, right? Words shouldn’t hurt, right? It shouldn’t be that difficult, right?

If only they knew how many thoughts and tears have been created by that sentence and for anyone reading this I want to say you’re not alone in the frustration of being told something should be easy when it isn’t. Would it be wrong for me to say that, for those that use that sentence, it shouldn’t be that difficult to understand how much heartache is caused by those words?

Aaron Likens on a sailboatAaron Likens, author of Finding Kansas: Decoding the enigma of Asperger’s Syndrome, and the National Autism Ambassador for Easterseals, has spoken to over 80,000 people at over 900 presentations and has given to the world a revelation of how the Autism Spectrum Disorder mind works. His willingness to expose his inner most thoughts and feelings has unveiled the mystery the Asperger’s mind. Join him on his journey from hopelessness to hope.</em


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  1. Margaret Roberts Says:

    Thank you Aaron! My grandson has just been diagnosed at the age of 3 and I have been telling him to just go that I’ve left all the lights on, its not that difficult, walk through the hallway to the bathroom and go. Oh I am feeling really horrible right now. Well, I can say that will not be happening again. I will just get up and go with him when he asks, lights on or not. It isn’t that far. Thank you for your insights. As I am just getting started and learning I am sure to make more mistakes along the way but I hope to do my best and to serve my little guy and meet his needs.

  2. Corey Says:

    This hit me hard. My son is 16, was diagnosed when he was 7. He has been struggling in high school, no actually he has been drowning in high school. And I realize now how many time the teachers, counselors and others including myself have said to him…it’s not that hard, just do the thing. But I know it is hard for him, and I realized how much he struggles to keep going forward in the face of such a realization that others can “just do the thing” and he cannot, and that he begins to hate himself for who he is. I do not want him to feel like that. I accept him for who he is but when I am frustrated and tired I still find myself saying that he just needs to do whatever it is and get moving and he of course freezes and now I know why. I am hating myself for not realizing this sooner and I want to thank you for making it clearer to me what is going on in his head. Thank you Aaron!

  3. Anne Benson Says:

    Thank you Aaron I really appreciate that story. My sistuation is I was just FINALY diagnosed last year with Aspburgers at 33. I knew I had it my whole life but I could not find a single Dr to actually take the the time to do the ADOS testing. Socially I get by through being shy and quite I sometimes talk to people out in public. But my main issues is my learning disabilitys I have a VERY HIGH IQ. But I have struggled to get my Assoistes Degree. Still need 2 more classes to graduate.

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