I am a graduate student.
I've made several attempts to figure out where I fit in this world that would also allow me to support myself and use my capabilities to my advantage. I feel much closer to that goal than ever. I am learning Project Management in IT and more advanced business practices. I enjoy it.
Something someone would be surprised to know about me is that I also like watching horror game play-throughs, but I don't like horror movies.
My biggest accomplishment thus far is making it as far as I have with my optimism intact. It hasn't been easy to hold on to.
I'm trying to incorporate more kindness into my life every day through my interactions with others. I want to be kind to others, even if that kindness isn't returned. I'm trying to get better at showing that same kindness to myself and trying to accept myself as I am right here and now, and feeling like I'm enough.
Something I wish neurotypicals knew about autism is that sometimes it's a subtle thing. The pressure to mask and keep up appearances is exhausting day in and day out. I'm doing my best.
Something I want to tell fellow autistics: It's okay to move at the pace that's best for you. It may not match what society says is "correct," but even neurotypical people might struggle with this. It's okay to take breaks and pace yourself.
I've only recently had access to a few resources, such as counseling and academic support for my classes. One of my biggest advocacy milestones has been talking to professors to let them know what's going on. If I had been diagnosed sooner then I may have had access to resources; especially counseling and classes. Online classes have been great for me, as I can do them at my own pace as long as I get it done by the deadline.
I noticed that I wasn't interested in a lot of the same things as my peers and had a lot of trouble recognizing and regulating emotions. I was bullied in elementary school and had a rough home life so I retreated into my imagination and played a lot of video games and read a lot of books.
Once I got to college, I started going to counseling in order to process a lot of the pain I was carrying around. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. That diagnosis just felt...off. Like, it was close, but it didn't answer all of the questions I had. I had nothing else to go on, so I just went with it.
Looking at myself, I noticed a few different signs that I was on the spectrum, such as my fidgeting, stimming, masking and mimicking emotions/personality traits. I had immense relief when I was first diagnosed; like a question I'd had my entire life had finally been answered. Today, I feel like I don't have to mask as often and can be more authentically myself. Accepting it is hard sometimes, especially when I have to accept that there are some things that are triggering to me, and that would be unhealthy for me.
In school, I took theatre and chorus, and this helped me along the way.
After I graduated, I began working at a martial arts school with students and coworkers that were on the spectrum or had other neuro-divergences and I began to listen and relate to their stories and recognized their behavior patterns in myself that I tried my best to mask ever since I was a child. I began to research and self-diagnosed myself with ASD (Asperger Syndrome) and found out that women on the spectrum often get misdiagnosed and overlooked. I got tested by a psychologist, and I felt relieved. So deeply relieved. I also felt like I had permission to stand up for myself and advocate for what I need, rather than settling into what society says I'm "supposed" to do. I'm wired differently, but that does not make me invalid or lesser. To get through before I had the diagnosis, I just had to take it one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. I still use that now.