People in my life have influenced me since I was born, and the impact has been good, bad, and everything in between. Truthfully, it’s often difficult for people on the Autism Spectrum to appreciate or even understand the influence others have on them; even some neuro-typical people may not realize it. What I do understand is that my outlook on life has been enriched in lots of ways. I could write many posts about all the people in my life, but it’s better for me to articulate what I know for sure through the stages of my Autism Spectrum journey.
From the time I was little to when I started community college, I experienced the highs and lows of learning to be in social situations. Where most neuro-typicals easily learn how to socialize, my social awkwardness kept me from having real friends until I was in high school. Then I was formally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at fifteen and began to understand just how different and special I was. I owe a debt of gratitude to those people who stood in my corner and helped me to discover an important part of myself. By knowing myself better, I felt like I could devote more attention to learning how to be a true friend.
When I was in community college and I transferred to a university, my world views were honed and developed, but that’s when my classmates became something more. Years before, I didn’t know how to talk to or deal with other kids in my class; the college dynamic changed all of that. Because I had a better sense of self and maybe because I wasn’t competing for attention from the teachers, classmates became the people I practiced learning about the workplace with. Working on different projects and bouncing ideas off of each other during class helped me discover that with the right partners and the proper motivation, I could be an asset to a team.
My closest friends and family are the ones who I can open up to and trust with my life. I’ve experienced disappointment, of course. That was because I used to hold some people in such high regard that I felt let down when I learned about their frailties and mistakes. Still, I learned that there are some people I can love from a distance in order to stay away from their negativity, as well as preserve my own sanity. Sadly, there are a few people in my life who are no longer living. Even though I may have lost touch with people, or lost their presence in this world, once in a while I still remember how they made my life a little sunnier with just their presence. They may not be with me physically, but in my heart I can still feel them.
I’ve realized that every person you meet comes into your life for a reason. No matter how large or small their impact, you are changed forever. It wasn’t easy, but I learned to appreciate every person who comes into my life, because I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. The gratitude I have cannot be put into words, but to know that it’s in my heart is worth the joy, pain, relief, and grace that I’ve found with this important life lesson. Now I ask you: who’s made an impact in your life? Have you learned to be grateful, even for the negative experiences? Where are you with your own relationships? I hope that you take time to ponder that. You might experience what happened to me and discover something amazing you never would have thought possible.
Today’s musical inspiration is a wonderfully appropriate song by the Beatles: “In My Life”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zicw_dVwhfM