A scene from moments before the farmers and artists market opened, as vendors wander around greeting each other. (The vendor’s name has been changed.)

Fellow vendor: “Hi! I’m Clara. It’s nice to meet you!”

Me: “Hi! It’s nice to meet you, too!”

Both: Awkward silence with awkward eye contact.

Fellow vendor: “And what’s your name?”

Me: Facepalm. “Oh, I’m Nicole!” Embarrassed smile.

End scene.

This past weekend, I had a booth at a local farmers and artists market (Das Marit for the locals among you). Everyone was so kind, including the other vendors. Years before, I had had a booth at this same market, but it had slipped my mind that vendors go around before the market opens to view each other’s wares and make introductions. 

I spent the entire previous week preparing for this 4-hour morning event - printing prints of my digital art, unpackaging packaging materials to package prints of my digital art, designing labels to label my digital art, making stickers of some of my digital art that people could stick on things… and framing and labeling some of my original (analog?) art, as well. (Funny thing: the original art that I spent the least amount of time on took up most of the booth space.)

The one thing I didn’t prepare for (or at least not as well as I thought): the social interactions. 

Do you remember that thing I mentioned in Blog #1 that would be discussed “in a later blog.” Well, this is that later blog. You see, through the years, I was never that interested in socializing. I was good at it (or thought I was), and I wanted to have socialized, but the actual act of socializing wore me out most of the time. 

I didn’t think anything of it. Wrote myself off as an introvert. But that big shutdown in Blog #1? It turns out it was my body’s way of telling me, “Okay. You’ve pushed yourself too far this time. Before, a weekend decompressing and avoiding stimulation would have been enough. Now, there are just too many things. Your full number of spoons (see “spoon theory”*) is being revoked. From here on out, you only get five spoons a day. Enjoy!”

Seriously though, I was a mess, a shell of the person I had been before. But I started noticing things that had always been part of me. Things that I just figured were part of my weirdness. Spoiler alert: they were part of my weirdness, but my weirdness had a name. 


As an artist, I love colors, and there’s a whole spectrum of colors out there, just waiting to be viewed or painted or photographed! Similarly, the way Autism presents is as varied as the number of people on the Autism Spectrum. I didn’t realize this until shortly before my own diagnosis. 

The more I read about it in research and memoirs, the more “that sounds like me” moments I had. (My brother had actually started noticing the same things in me, but we didn’t share our thoughts for quite a while.) Of course, there were things that I didn’t relate to, but that’s the beauty of it. We’re all different, all unique. 

The four-panel comic you may have seen at the start of this is just one example of how post-burnout Nicole now functions. When I’m exhausted, I tend to skip or miss parts of “scripted” conversations that I would have aced before. 

The other vendor introduced herself and said, “It’s nice to meet you!” And my not-a-morning-person, constantly exhausted brain only picked out the “It’s nice to meet you” to respond to. It wasn’t until she asked, after the awkward pause, what my name was that I realized I hadn’t completed my lines. 

I’d like to say that this was an isolated incident, but it happened again the very next day… multiple times. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time. 

(Apparently, one reason girls are so often missed is because we naturally learn how to navigate social interactions, often with scripted questions or responses. Understand that this is highly generalized. How Autism presents varies widely from person to person, regardless of gender.)

So, if we’re ever conversing and it seems like I’m not responding with the information you think I should be responding with or that you were trying to ascertain, please tell me. :)

If you liked the comic, please let me know. I plan on creating more of these to capture my experiences with how my autism presents in daily life. And a not-so-humble ask (or maybe it is humble, because I think it’s awesome!): follow @nickole_and_dymes and @nickyandbeabooks on Instagram! Nicky (my illustrated self) will be setting off on an adventure with her friend Bea (my friend Becca) in an upcoming children’s book I illustrated (and Becca wrote)! More details coming soon!

If you’d like to support Nickole and Dymes Creations as it starts out, visit my Etsy shop from time to time to check out the newest digital (and eventually physical) products. If you’d like to be a patron of Nickole and Dymes, visit my Patreon account for details on how to get started! Even liking and sharing posts from my Instagram (nickole_and_dymes) and Facebook (Nickole.and.Dymes) accounts makes a huge difference.

* Spoon Theory - originally used to illustrate limitations experienced by someone with chronic illness (my brother could tell you all about this), it is also helpful in illustrating limitations experienced in other situations, like post-burnout.

If you enjoy the comic in this blog, be sure to follow Nicky & Bea Books on Facebook and Instagram (@NickyandBeaBooks) to stay up-to-date with the launch of the first book in the Nicky & Bea series, with author Rebecca (Becca) Amstutz and illustrator Nicole Dynes (that’s me!).


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