Neurodivergent people and the pressure machine

We all live inside a pressure machine to one level or another. Wheter is our hometown, work, school or a whole country we have all felt society pressuring us to do and be something in order to not stuck out like a weirdo for them. Most people just play by their rules and don't realise that this machine it's always working, always putting pressure.

This is why I was struck by all the accolades in Convenience Store Woman (コンビニ人間) by Sayaka Murata saying this was a really funny book that you will laugh at.

The story follows Keiko, an apparently neurodivergent person (It's never stated but you can tell right away) trying to 'behave' like a human, as she states. She doesn't get why do people do the stuff they do. Why are they not as upfront as her?. Why do they try to go around some problems just because someone will get hurt?. She just doesn't get it until she starts working in the titular convenience store.

Japanese convenience stores have a strict rulebook you need to follow telling you from how to greet people to how to arange things in the store. This was what she was looking for, a guide to tell her what to do in every situation, a how-to-be-a-person guide. The times when she works there are the times she feels more normal. More Human.

You can see her thoughout the book making a guide for herself asking her sister how to answer her friends and coworkers questions about her life to which she replies just to give a vague answer and they will fill the rest. Do you have a boyfriend? oh you know dating is hard. Kids? oh you know the time haven't presented itself. Why do you still work at a convenience store even tho you are in your mid thirdties? oh I have this leg thing that doesn't let me get a more arduous work.

All of this due to her not seeing the world as everyone else. They don't think to stop a fight in school by hitting both kids with a woodplank until they are unconsious. They don't think to kill a baby just to make them stop crying. This sounds harsh, but it's not out of evil. She just doesn't think as everyone else and it's doing her best to not stick out and hurt the ones around her (only just that's what they told her).

All this colapses when all of her friends, now married with childrens, start bombarding her with questions about marriage, kids and her work. This makes her take a new plan, use the guy that started working recently with her (lasted a couple of days in the work), that also it's outside of the norm, a oddball in the pressure machine.

But unlike her, this man is in this situation by choice. I liked what they did with this character, separating Keiko's weirness of being "socially inept" (i don't like this concept to describe her but bare with me) due to her emphaty and reactions being different from other people than to be that way due to incompetence and lack of trying by blaming all on society.

This guy is by all means a creep, he stalks girls blaming them for only dating "good looking guys with jobs" and not him, he hates working and blames all on society, basically he's a literal incel. But even tho he's this way once they start this fake relationship no one quetions it, no one its worried for Keiko due to this man: No she's part of the machine, she has a man, she's normal.

This only makes her miserable. First, the people around her start talking new topics they never did around her, she starts getting invited to social meet ups at work, relationship chit chat and the like. She thought she was succesuful at hiding her oddness and not sticking out, just to realise that other people isolated her due to being wierd. But not that weird to be fired or left behind, just weird enough to keep around but not close. The pressure machine was still there, moving its cogs, keeping an eye on her, breathing down her neck to kick her out the moment she sticks out.

Secondly, this creep of a guy starts giving her tips of how to fool everyone better, by getting a new job because a 30 something years old woman should be working a full time job or raising a kid, not working a part-time job.

All this time outside the convenience stores makes her go into a depression until, just before getting into a building for a job interview, she enters another convenience store to buy something only to realise this is where she belongs ditching the weirdo and his ideas of getting a new job to fall back in love with the convenience store, the place where she feels she belongs.

This doesn't sounds happy at all, or funny, or to laught at. So all I have to say to the people doing the accolates it's "Congratulations, you are part of the pressure machine". Saying that a neurodivergent reaction to life it's something to laught at its terrible and fails to get the point of this book. To see how society betrayes those differents not by choice and how even the simples thing as "living your life the good way" statements only do more harm than good.

This is an excelent and light read, I would recommend it even tho i kind of spoiled the whole book... gomen.