Thank you for the thoughtful responses to my observations.
When I speak of learning and building skills, I don't mean trying to look more neurotypical, but only to become more free to do the things you want to do in life. Like my niece, who had to overcome her fear of being photographed so that she could get a passport and go abroad, one of many skills that she had to develop on the way to earning a bachelor's degree and becoming self-supporting. It's been a heroic struggle for her, but she's determined not to tolerate the limits ASD keeps trying to impose upon her world.
To me, that's what it sounds like when you describe your efforts to participate in social gatherings. Believe me, the struggle to "fit in" is not unique to folks with ASD. It's part of what makes adolescence hell for everyone. But we do it, because we have an instinctual desire for people in our world. Life is just too lonely without friends.
As for sensitivity, especially sensitivity to anxiety, that's a neurological dimension with a lot of variation in the population. Again, it's not unique to ASD; it's what predisposes some people to anxiety disorders (including OCD, PTSD, phobias, social anxiety disorder, etc.) and makes other people shy or moody.
But at the other end of that dimension, people with no sensitivity to anxiety are likely to be psychopaths.
Yes, the NT world tends to be clueless, and it isn't fair that we should have to educate them, any more than it is fair that women or BIPOC should have to educate white men.
But the good news is, there are a growing number of them who do seem to want to learn.