I got my first job when I was 16. I worked at Whataburger, and overall, I hated it. I felt trapped when I was there, and I hated being in a position where I had to do whatever someone else told me. In the vast majority of the jobs I’ve had since then, it only got worse, especially when I was pressured to make sales.
I had more than a dozen jobs here and there until I was about 27 or 28, and it wasn’t just the jobs themselves that made me miserable. It was having to always have a job and thinking that that was just going to be my life. It made me unhappy, and it turned me into a paranoid narcissist. The only escape I had was believing that I was special and the world was trying to keep me down.
After Hollywood Video died and my job there died with it, I gave up on that kind of job. I could no longer even bring myself to fill out a job application. I still can’t. My girlfriend, Michelle, encouraged me to get my official autism diagnosis so I could get on disability for the freedom to explore what I wanted to do, and it has been so much better.
Now I have a number of different projects I’m working on, and though I haven’t struck gold with anything yet, I’m enjoying these beginnings of my journey to success.
I tend to find things to write about mostly when something is bothering me, so I thought I’d post something happy while nothing is bothering me. I don’t really have anything specific planned to write. I just wanted to wiggle my fingers on the keyboard for a bit and see what words come out.
Since I got my lens back from Canon and switched to Linux Mint on my main computer, I’ve felt very satisfied as far as my aspie obsessions are concerned. I take a lot of pictures, I get to use a variety of operating systems among my various devices (desktop with Linux, tablet with Windows 10, and Kindle Fire running Kindle’s version of Android), I’m not sick or injured, I’m in a wonderful relationship, and I just discovered that I have powers like Superman.
You would think that this would be the part where I confess that I’m just kidding, but no. I’m Superman. Deal with it. :p
Aspies have it tough. I know a few people who are very negative about their aspergers and life in general. As depressing as it can be to be around them for very long, I can see where they’re coming from. After high school, I spent years wondering why I couldn’t go on to live a normal life like everybody else. Realizing that I’m not like everybody else didn’t help much, because it didn’t tell me where I belonged. It only told me where I don’t belong.
But as I drifted through life, some of my choices took me away from the life of misery that I thought I was doomed for. I stopped trying to live to gain everyone else’s approval, and as the stress eased, I was able to think more clearly and make even more wise choices. I grew up, and contrary to popular belief, adulthood has many perks.
I take great pride in little things that other people would take for granted, like when I met with clients recently to discuss their wedding and what kind of pictures they want me to take. My girlfriend helped me to pick out a suit, and I got a great deal on a very nice one. I do volunteer work and build a reputation as a productive member of a community. I love that I can use my talents and skills to serve other people, because for so long, I felt like an outsider.
Finding a way to do what I like to do in order to serve other people was the key to finding my place in the world, and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way.
I recently saw an article about the unexpected downsides to high intelligence, and it occurs to me that maybe the upsides don’t get enough attention, so here is a list of good things about being a smartypants.
- We have interesting things to talk about.
- We are able to figure out the solutions to problems quickly and easily.
- We are seldom bored because of the universe that exists in our minds
- People can understand what we’re saying because we write and speak (more or less) correctly.
- We often succeed at what we’re trying to do because we know how to do things. As a result, we are less frustrated.
- We do better in school with less effort.
- More people respect us.
- Many of us are hilarious.
- The art we create is more profound and meaningful.
- It takes us fewer words to convey more ideas.
- We have more ideas to convey.
I can add to this list if anyone gives me any more good ones that aren’t repeats of what I already listed. An intelligent person would have a less hard time thinking of them. :p
For a ridiculously long time, I was turning people away from me without even knowing it. I would say things that would hurt them and then try to justify my actions, thinking that if I just talked hard enough, my words would have the effect that I intended. I’ve behaved insensitively, and I suppose the effects have been so gradual, it’s only now that I’ve begun to reverse my course that I’m seeing the difference. I was pushing everyone away, and I was close to ending up alone and unhappy. I would have deserved it too. I’d have had no one but myself to blame.
Asperger’s Syndrome is not an excuse for behaving badly. I tried to use it as one, but I was wrong, and I am sorry to everyone I’ve hurt. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, but I wasn’t trying not to, and the truth is that I was hurting people. I had no consideration for anyone’s feelings but my own. I can’t say I was unaware of what other people were going through. Some of them were directly telling me, and I refused to acknowledge them. It was incredibly childish, and I knew better.
I have no right to expect anyone to forgive me, but people are starting to all on their own. It’s amazing and humbling. I want more than anything else to make myself worthy of the compassion I’m being shown. I’m making more of an effort than ever before to create a climate of peace in my mind because constantly fighting is so tiring, and it’s not strength that made me keep it up for so long. It was weakness. The more tired I got, the harder I fought until I found myself more and more alone. When I took a step back, I saw what I had become and where the path I was on was leading me, and I didn’t want that. I want to be as good as my friends and family. I want to be accepted and liked. I have to adjust not only my behavior but also my way of thinking or else all of my talents will go to waste, and I will never be happy.
I know that John has posted extensively about his complex and turbulent relationship with his parents, so I thought I should go into my own situation.
My parents could hardly be any more different from each other. I figure they got together through sheer physical attraction. My mom is very emotional but also closed off. She reacts very strongly to things, but she keeps a lot to herself. I think she is the main reason my sisters and I went to church when we were kids. She’s one of those “spiritual but not religious” people with a mishmash of beliefs that are based on whatever makes her feel like she understands reality, though in actual reality she understands very little, and it’s impossible to have a conversation or debate with her about it. Back when I was as superstitious as her, if I said something she found interesting, she would say “that’s deep” in a sort of mocking tone that didn’t encourage me to really go on. Now that I’m more sensible, all of my points are met with “you have too much time to think” or “science is a religion”. We get along ok most of the time because she likes to pretend that everything is ok when it really isn’t.
My dad is probably an aspie himself, though he hasn’t been tested and never will be. I get the impression that he thinks things like asperger’s syndrome are just excuses not to do things. He worked hard to get through school and get a job, so he expects me to do the same, and because I don’t, he’s disappointed. Fortunately, I don’t care because I can see what walking the well paved path of conformity has done for him. He keeps himself amused through various engineering, computer, or carpentry projects, but he’s basically not a happy guy. When my sisters and I were little, he would hit us with his belt when we made him angry. I remember the way he would snap it when he threatened us with it. He was a monster, but he has become more of a human being when we became old enough to realize what he was doing was wrong. It left us all with emotional scars that have yet to be healed completely. He was one of 10 kids in a very catholic family, so you can imagine what the abuse was like for him. His parents are both dead now, and he’s almost 62 now, so he’s probably as healed right now as he’ll ever get. It’s pretty sad, especially because even to this day he thinks child abuse is sometimes justified. He never touches his grandkids like that though. He knows that would cause them to be removed from his life. Despite all this, he and I have a lot in common, and we talk about computers a lot. I have a lot of good memories of talking to him when I was little.
I don’t feel like either of my parents understand me or want to understand me. They both just want me to conform and get a job and be miserable like everybody else. I thought parents were supposed to want their kids to have better lives than they have. Oh well. I feel no obligation to work for their approval. They have a long way to go before they get mine, but until then, relations will remain cordial.
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of problems doing things that everyone else seems to have no trouble at all with – namely, getting and keeping a job. Every time I work at a place for very long, it strikes me that I’m wasting my time doing something completely meaningless and beneath me. I spent years wondering what was missing in me that everyone else seemed to have that allowed them to cope with the misery of their lives.
But then I remembered something very important that had escaped me. Back in high school, I came up with what I call my number one rule. Never let anybody make you feel bad about yourself. Every time I felt uncomfortable or inadequate, I thought of it, and I felt better. When I applied it to my struggles with working, it allowed me to see the situation from a different perspective. It’s not that other people have something that I lack. I have something that they lack. The flaw isn’t within me. It’s in my environment.
I no longer have to remind myself not to let other people make me feel bad about myself. I’ve internalized it, and it has blossomed into a healthy sense of self confidence. I encourage everybody who finds themselves feeling like they’re not good enough or like something is wrong with them to come up with a motto or a rule that they can keep in mind when things get tough. It can help you carry yourself through the hard times.
There are a lot of smart people in the aspie community, but self confidence is very hard to come by to our people. It’s a real shame too because without self confidence, intelligence can only take a person so far. It traps a person’s thinking within the narrow boundaries prescribed by other people, and it limits our potential to what others allow.
The world of neurotypicals is a difficult place for aspies to cope with because of our sensory differences and different patterns of thought, and when a person realizes he or she is different, it’s easy to judge those differences as deficiencies. It makes sense for the only person in a room wearing a blue sweater to think that he should be wearing a red one like everyone else, but in the case of aspies, we’re born wearing a blue sweater, and we can’t take it off. We can try to wear a red one over it, but the blue always seems to show at the edges. We forget that our blue sweaters are actually very nice, and in many ways they are better than the red one worn by everyone else.
With self confidence comes the freedom to express ourselves and to apply our intelligence to whatever area we want, unrestricted by worries about how others will see us. With self confidence comes the ability to cope better with stress and better health.
When people see someone who is confident, they have one of two reactions; admiration or contempt. We lead those who look at us with admiration, but those who look at us with contempt have the most to learn. A self confident person treats others with compassion and respect and can win over critics. Self confidence moves society in positive directions, and it is the most intelligent of us who should be at the wheel.