I relate to this so much.
I was a high achiever in my twenties, leading to a career in military intelligence that I kicked ass at because of and not despite my autism.
I worked insane hours because I wanted to, focused intensely on my work because it fascinated me, and was otherwise a complete hot mess.
But not in the stereotypical way people expect.
You wouldn’t have thought I was autistic. Not when I dressed well and went out to clubs and parties all the time. Autistic people aren’t supposed to do that. I did it because it was part of my mask, not that I understood what masking was.
Dressing well and having the right friends was part of what I understood to be necessary to “success,” so I was going to do it no matter what.
But if you paid close attention, you would have seen me drink like a fish until I was numb and then leave parties without saying goodbye to anybody.
You would have seen friends who perceived me as charming and interesting at first come to ultimately describe me as rude and cold, even though I felt like the opposite inside.
That still happens, though at least I’ve learned to stop self-medicating.
I haven’t watched the Queen’s Gambit yet, though it sounds like I should. Thanks for the tip.