At some point or another, we’ve hashed out where we’d go back in time and counsel our younger selves.
For a while, my main wish was to tell younger H2 to buy a certain Beanie Baby at a store, because it’d have fetched about $600 during the Beanie heyday.
I mean, it’d have still been nice to pocket six yards as a younger teen, but I’ve evolved my life and financial advice a bit.
And I’ve realized: While I can’t go back to counsel my younger self, I can offer advice to my younger selves. The ones along my spectrum, beginning their own Life Autistic.
Here’s what I’d tell you:
– Hang onto your uniqueness
You might hate being different now, but you’ll appreciate how it differentiates you later.
– Find a hobby you can enjoy alone
It’s hard when you get into something that could involve people, so keep a few solitary, happy hobbies if at all possible.
– Hang on to the few friends you make
Most people can lose, like, three friends in a week and have dozens to spare. Not you. Make and keep a few good ones; you’re playing for quality, not quantity.
– Be a good listener through the awkwardness
It’s going to feel so stupid when you’re on the periphery of conversations and “there, but not there” with others. Study, listen, laugh when it seems appropriate, but use that time to absorb the social cadence.
– Navigate your difference
I wish I had know why I was different when I was younger. If you know now, develop some healthy introspection, talk out why you do what you do. Find ways to backtrace where and how you react the way you do, and even though it’s exhausting, have that map at the ready to navigate yourself and your actions & reactions daily.
– Be you, only better each day
Get ahead of wishing you were someone else. More importantly, there are aspects of you that don’t change, but they can be refined. You may never enjoy crowds or loud noises, but you can always increase your tolerance or creatively decrease your exposure. You’re still you, but you can be a better, smarter you about you.
“Don’t be afraid; stay strong and play the game”
This is just because I like this one Clarens song. Aside from that, think of it as losing a few rounds, but staying in the game. Make survivorship bias work in your favor.
– Lock down a good apology
Because it’s not going to be the world and others apologizing for how you’re treated. No, you’re going to screw up, people are going to get mad, and they’re going to hate how your apologies always sound robotic. Start working on this one now.
– Learn to suffer
People are wising up to autism, but that’s not going to fix everything. There are going to be hiccups, setbacks, misunderstandings, wrongdoings, and a whole lot more as you work through The Life Autistic. Your difference is hard for people to wrap their minds around. It’s unseen. And it’s beset with friction.
But it’s a human thing, and you are indeed human. Let suffering teach you empathy, bring you closer to a universal experience. Even if no one seems to know or care what you’re enduring, everyone endures something.