In the first two posts of the Autism and me series, I talked about two specific challenges that I faced due to my autism, which were socialising and adapting to change. The links to these posts can be found here and here. In this blog post I will talk about 4 things that my autism has taught me. My experience with autism has in a way been a learning experience, and I have been grateful for some of these things. Hopefully some of the points that I talk about are ones that you can relate to as well.
You have to get out of your comfort zone
There is no way that I would have achieved what I have if I wasn’t prepared to get out of my comfort zone in numerous ways. In paragraph 4 of Part 1 of this series, I talked about ways that I got out of my comfort zone when it came to socialising, and how that helped me. Being in your comfort zone can feel comfortable in the moment, but staying in it for too long does more harm than good. Getting out of your comfort zone is not easy, and your mindset plays a big part when it comes to getting out of your comfort zone. Sometimes it is very easy to hide behind excuses and say that you haven’t had the time or that the time isn’t right when it comes to not getting out of your comfort zone, but at the end of the day you have to take full responsibility. Another specific example where I have got out of my comfort zone is when I decided to live out for university. It could have been easy for me to make excuses and try and falsely convince myself that it wasn’t a good idea for me to live out, but I would have regretted that in the long term.
You are unique – don’t try and be like others
Because of my autism, there are ways in which I see the world differently to others, and I would consider that as a bad thing before. However, seeing the world differently also means that you have unique perspectives and views which other people genuinely appreciate. Therefore, reframing my thoughts and thinking about my differences as a good thing helped me a lot. Sometimes there are pressures from society to conform to certain stereotypes or to have certain personality traits, and it can feel exhausting trying to meet expectations from others. But I do think that not conforming to certain stereotypes or having personality traits/habits that are different can be a good thing as it makes you a unique person that is special in their own way. If everyone was the same, things would be very boring!
Don’t let your challenges stop you from focusing on your goals
It is one thing facing challenges in life, and from time to time these challenges can prove extremely difficult to overcome. But it’s when you let those challenges overwhelm you and become a hindrance to you achieving your goals is when things become a problem. I will admit that my autism is a challenge that I have to face on a daily basis. However, I basically have two choices here. I can either choose to accept and appreciate the challenge for what it is and find ways to ensure it doesn’t stop me from achieving my long-term goals. Or I could feel sorry for myself, let the challenge overwhelm me and effectively allow it to prevent me from meeting my long-term goals. It’s fair to say that I chose the first option. It’s important to remember that you will face challenges which is sometimes not in your control, you have control in how you approach the challenge and ensure that it doesn’t stop you from achieving your long-term goals.
Even the little gestures of support goes a long way
At school, a lot of my classmates and teachers knew about my autism, and in general this was something that people knew about. However, I have found that there has been a lot of people that have been very supportive and understanding of it, whether that was friends, family or someone else. In the majority of cases, the support wasn’t provided by grand gestures and acts, but rather by small gestures, such as words of encouragement whenever I tried something new. Looking back, it was the small gestures of support that really helped me with overcoming challenges that came my way. Whenever I was in a difficult situation, I would remember the kind words/gestures of support and use that as motivation. It’s important to realise that even something small such as a few words of encouragement can make someone’s day, and that your support to other people genuinely does help them massively.