What It’s Like to Kiss the Sun

You’re probably familiar with my one confession.

I’m actually quite good with interviews.

Almost a year ago, I recounted a bit of an experience where I essentially scaled a wall of five rounds of interviews and beat out a couple hundred candidates. Except one. I’ve made an art of getting as close to victories without being able to take them.

So off I fell that wall, back slamming to the ground and heaving the wind out of me. I was sore in defeat, but over time I found what it was to be resolute.

While I’m not sure how neurotypicals do it, my “autistic strategy” is cycling back into routine deep enough to where I can counteract my other autistic routine of self-talk-immolation: where I don’t revisit the regret and rethink what I should have done, but rather unknowingly dig myself into the futures where I’ve failed.

This past year, I scaled the wall again.

In my career, I tend to balance contentment with opportunism, better recently now. So when an interesting opportunity opened up, I grabbed my hat and tossed it into the ring.

What I didn’t realize was that it’d set off a four month crusade, one in which I’d be contending against several hundred applicants. Without getting too far into the specifics, each meeting carried its little share of joys, reassurances, delights. You know, those little things and answers that make even a pessimist (me!) feel like this was it. These were the doors.

One by one they opened. Different scenarios and tracks made this more and more the right kind of opportunity for H2’s next adventure. This wall took me to greater heights.

Ten interviews total. Talk about putting skills into practice! After that point, I feel like they’d have been sick of me. I even lowkey disclosed my autism! That was a huge first.

But throughout this entire excursion, the many rounds, the many faces, for once I felt peace throughout. No major worries. No gut-wrenching concerns. My autistic-tinged skills and prep seemed to be delivering “the big one” for once.

After the ten interviews, we waited.

And waited.

I was not selected.

In my soul I nodded. My fingers let go that same wall, where I’d climbed twice as high as last year. I felt indeed I had kissed the sun and watched it shrink as backwards I fell, bracing my back for that same impact, only more intense, that same breathless feeling of the wind being rushed out of my lungs.

I have made an art of this.

I’ve snapped back, not from being fitter in my old age, but from understanding what it’s like to come this close. Again. These heights are terra firma. I was sad with the heaviness of this long journey that concluded in similar end. And that is OK.

I thought about the comedy of it all, how I have indeed come far, yet feeling it is not far enough. How my interesting path isn’t so much progress, but merely making a long and winding journey of it. How I’m learning that not every good path is the right path.

I thought about my daughters. How we’re ever going to cram them all into one room. Where I’m likely going to have to uproot this office, the place where the journeys begin, and bury it in my basement, like an object lesson — where once this little alcove kissed the sun, but cannot keep trying to climb to such forever. The mounting needs, my futility in expanding the borders, many daunting possibilities.

We don’t quit yet.

For all my prognostication, the hopes were never as I wrote them.

We kissed the sun, fell back to Earth, where that beaming star looks dimmer. But only until the dust settles, when I shake the rest of it off, fix my hair, grab a coffee, and look forward to the next hill — where I’ll aim to do more than touch the light, but find it embracing me back.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.

Hey, I might not be good at “getting jobs” apparently, but y’know, I interview a lot. These tips may help. And if they don’t, they’re worth a laugh:

It’s Never Too Late: A Cautionary Note on Late Autism Diagnosis

I can only imagine the feelings of an autism (or related) diagnosis later in life.

Relief in knowing the why. Comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Peace.

But maybe you feel regret. That you only just now found out. That you lived almost your entire life already without knowing, without help, without being able to answer so many of those whys.

As one who discovered his autism at 16, let me caution you: It is never too late.

Wait, caution? And yours wasn’t late at all. I don’t understand.

As I apprehended my autism, I embarked on a course that I regret, one that I would advise against doing when you find out.

I buried it.

I didn’t want anyone to know. I never wanted to bring it up. I wanted to plunge it beneath the depths of adaption, to “prove it wrong,” to live as if it weren’t something that could affect me.

Please don’t do this.

Being young enough in my formative years, I was just learning to navigate the world as an adult. And I built my vessel underneath many different veneers, gloss, ways to fit in, shaping myself in a way to where I sought conformity but couldn’t assimilate, to embrace a difference without opening myself to that difference.

Don’t hide yourself.

It severed me from many who would have understood, many more I could have helped, cut me off from a community of need. It was madness.

But still I found grace and graceful people. I built long lasting, life-defining relationships as I opened myself up; the more true I became, the more fulfilled I felt. With co-workers, peers, teachers, rare friends, and my future wife. If only I’d seen that it was a real me they probably saw and not the masked and mysterious marauder I was making myself out to be.

My caution is this: when you find out, don’t bury yourself out of regret.

Your life was not a wasted and confused mess.

I learned it the hard way in reverse, wasting fruit and sowing confusion by being less open about my autistic self. There were myriad mercies and blossoms of blessing in the dark sand, fertile and waiting for me — in this I was fortunate to love and be loved and do good, to shine the more true lights through the cracks of armored pastiches of fear and shame.

This is my lesson. And it’s not even mine.

It isn’t too late for you.

It wasn’t too late for you.

Be you.

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Oh hey, don’t miss my latest video! To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram and/or Twitter.

The Rarest, Best Thing Autistic People Want to Say

Sometimes we talk too much. Sometimes too little. Sometimes not at all.

But for those of us verbose and wordy autistic people, I think I found it. The one phrase that—when we can say it honestly, truly—makes a world of difference.

The other day, I had to employ a self-hack, something I call “My Own Best Friend.” It’s like when you talk to and think of yourself as your own worst enemy, but in reverse. Weird, huh? It works, and sometimes it’s a revelation. Sad that it often has to come to that, but whatever.

So in triaging how a recurring scenario has been affecting me negatively and compounding in its specific impact on “autistic me,” I walked through a couple of less-than-helpful admissions before arriving at the one that unlocked it for me.

“You’re right.” This one is a defeat. It’s what you say as a concession to someone browbeating or otherwise twisting your arm into a truth — irrespective of whether it’s not true, it’s like you’re the horse being led to water, then dunked straight in. It’s just…not the best. If someone gives you this answer, then you’ve dropped the proverbial ball and need to do better.

That’s right.” This one is better, but not there yet. One of my favorite Chris Voss tactics — where you get someone to acknowledge the larger truth-behind-the-truth, aligning on a key, deep-rooted motivation for what you’re doing. It’s clever, but it still falls a bit short of where we autistic people yearn to express.

So here’s the phrase:

“I know, right?”

Yes.

That’s the phrase.

“Come on, H2, people say that all the time.”

I’m sure people do.

But among autistic people saying this about uniquely autistic things? That’s not common. That’s rare.

It’s rare that people can articulate and echo back why things affect us the way they do. The unique stressors. The specific pain points. The otherwise unexplainable emotional toll of otherwise inoffensive situational toll bridges.

To be able to spin it back, validate, elucidate, and distill in a way that makes not just sense universally, but specifically for us: getting an honest, true “I know, right?” is liberating.

Bizarrely, people have found my content “relatable” for this reason — and I had no idea anything I felt, said, did, or expressed, was relatable! But apparently that is so, and very so to a very select few.

The few who rarely get to say and mean “I know, right?”

In the neurodivergent experience, “relatability” is hard to come by. But when we find it and lock in, it’s a world-changer: in those moments we are less alone. To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.

Hey, if you’re still here, would you consider subscribing to my YouTube channel? It’s quickly becoming one of my more impactful vehicles for autism advocacy. It’s unique, fun, and it’s going a little way to help people better understand the ‘different normal’ of autism. Thanks so much!