Wow...does time ever fly! I can't believe that in less than a week will mark FOUR YEARS since my autism diagnosis! Life in general has had its ups and downs since then, but as of right now, it's going pretty well.
Over these past four years, I've learned a lot about who I am, as well as how to be a better version of myself. While I've discovered which parts of myself I choose to embrace, there have also been a few segments in which I saw a need for improvement, and have thus made changes. For example, my grammar police tendencies. While grammatical errors still stick out like a sore thumb to me, I've learned not to be as blunt about them. I've stumbled across Facebook posts from years back and in hindsight, I realize I could be a real jerk! I now recognize that even though it pains me to see the English language being butchered, it also does more harm than good to hurt someone's feelings over it. I don't know everyone's story; perhaps they have a learning disability which makes it difficult for them to spell or put sentences together. I wouldn't want people to judge me for my disabilities, so why would I want to do the same? Perhaps they didn't receive a quality education. The list goes on. All I know is that if I bite my tongue and just treat the other person with kindness, I feel a lot better!
While this is something I feel I've been getting better at for many years now, I feel I'm continuing to be more open-minded. In the past, I used to be rather cynical and rigid in my thoughts. I had a really hard time seeing things from another person's point of view. Working in human services has helped me to change that a great deal, as I've met many different people from all walks of life, and in a position such as mine, you can't exactly make judgements or give your opinions on how people choose to live. You have to take an objective point of view. It's more helpful. These days, I have friends from all different backgrounds, and who all have various beliefs. In the past, some things were hard for me to wrap my head around, but today, I'm just able to let them go and am willing to accept and respect people for who they are. After all, we can't ALL be exactly the same! I want people to accept me for my unique self, so I must do so in return.
One thing that continues to be a work in progress is the fact that I tend to state my opinions where I know they'll stir the pot. For example: autism parent groups. I'll see something I disagree with, such as a parent talking about wanting a cure, and I immediately get up on my soapbox and start proclaiming why they're wrong. I know where I stand, however I need to learn to express my opinions without coming across so harshly. This only starts arguments, and leads to anger and frustration of both parties. There are ways to word things so that they are productive, and I need to learn to think before I type and use more effective methods of getting my point across. If I want to teach others about autism acceptance, I need to use kindness and educate, rather than throw my thoughts at them!
I'm always working on learning new things and being my best self. Autism shapes who I am, and has given me many meaningful connections over the past several years. In order to be an advocate, I need to be someone who others can learn from...and why not spread kindness at the same time? As I continue to travel the journey called life, I hope to make an impact and leave the world a little bit better where my footprints lie :)