Why I Don’t Make Resolutions (and what I make instead)

I don’t do resolutions for a new year, because it’s more in keeping to break them. To joke about how soon you’ll fail. To join the masses in abandoning the resolutions to dissolutions.

Even last year, I think I made one offhand in a meeting about how I was learning to do more things left-handed — while that may be true, I didn’t really chart my progress, track my goals, or celebrate my resolution once complete.

I can wave much better left-handed, yay.

For each new year, sometimes I’ll set a goal, something SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound), sometimes I’ll establish a habit.

My weight loss goal was one of these: I started that habit early, and I went from whale to walrus within 9 months — that was powerful.

But it was powerful for another reason:

My best resolutions are habits.

Me being autistic me, once I lock in a habit, it’s hard to break. And it’s amazing when it’s a good habit, like eating right, exercising, financial discipline (or delegation!).

And then the other powerful thing:

The best resolutions don’t always coincide with a new year.

Like this channel, my blog, health, journaling, advocacy, and so much more — I didn’t set about the year with those major milestones in mind. They just happened from good habits, and I’m glad they did, irrespective of when I set about them.

So where does this intersect with autism?

Well, I may have set about baking in some goals and habits for 2021. They aren’t things that will be “accomplished” or “celebrated,” but I can look back and be grateful that I’m using my autistic tendencies for and against myself.

One: Don’t quit.

Hunter, you’ve gotta be joking —

Nope. Despite all the moment, self-care breaks, troughs, nadirs, I find I can usually lean on my autistic “powers” of momentum to carry on, keep the routine, press on, etc.

But what if I just couldn’t?

Now at least I have one more arrow in the quiver, an extra bootstrap to where I won’t be letting myself down when I deserve to press on. It’s an easy goal. Keep trying. Keep at the writing. Keep with the channel. Never stop attempting new things. Be kind until it hurts. Don’t quit.

Two: NO MORE NUMBERS

Yep, I’m leaving my data and analysis career to — NO NO NOT THAT — THAT IS A JOKE.

I realize I’m a mild obsessive over things, measures, success criteria. The details stand out. And the patterns, and the numbers.

If a blog, a post, reel, or video doesn’t have numbers, then I feel like I’ve become attached to the wrong thing — it dampens my mood, casts doubt on my worth, and tailspins me far more than it should. That’s a normal, human thing, but then being autistic, it’s hard to headspin out of it.

Later this year, I realized that if the numbers make me sad, then they should be making me happy.

And for me, that just isn’t right. It’s not what I look back and celebrate or enjoy. Seeing a number go wild isn’t what “does it” for me. It’s the conversations, the engagement, the people given hope and help.

I’m going to go beyond the numbers this year and beyond. I apologize for not celebrating those with you, because there’s other things we should be celebrating. I hope you’ll join me in those instead.

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.

I appreciate you reading! I’m including this video for your amusement, because I hope that a “stretch goal” will be to UNMASK more this year. Here’s how this gets started O_O

The Life Autistic: You Can’t Really be Autistic, because . . .

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Hunter, you can’t really be autistic. 

You moved out.

You have a decent job.

You actually got married — and you married up!

People laugh at your jokes. Ok, some of them.

You actually do alright in social situations.

You seem to hold your own in conversations.

There’s those big words you use, but that’s, well, you just like books.

You talk. A lot.

You at least have an idea of empathizing.

You’re, I guess you could say ‘almost’ normal?

Folks, I’ve had close to 20 years since I found out I was autistic.  And I’ve known I was different long before that.

Time. Experience. Practice. Mistakes. Correction.

There are aspects of who I am, who we are, that won’t change.

I’ve not gotten less autistic.

I’ve just had time to work long and hard on adapting, adjusting, keeping up appearances, functioning.

The Life Autistic: Why We Wear the Mask

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For those of us on the high-functioning side, we’re sometimes accused of faking our autism.

But more often than not, we’re having to fake being “normal.” 

That’s where ‘masking’ comes in.

Masking is where autistic people drastically adjust their behaviors to mask their symptoms. Some of us do it more than others.

Things like finding a spot on someone’s face to stare at to approximate eye-contact. A painstakingly-rehearsed repertoire of small-talk to give off the appearance of social comfort. Mimicking normal behaviors. Finding places to sit or otherwise be occupied so we’re not caught pacing, flapping, or otherwise repetitively twitching while we talk. Reaching out to others out of the blue. Doing research on people we’ll be meeting so we can find ways to get them talking so we don’t have to.

Why? To pass as normal. To retreat from awkwardness. To fit in. To be accepted.

It’s exhausting. I don’t know how you neurotypical people do it.

But I know how do it. I’ve needed a mask, something that goes beyond Hunter.

My mask is practically Batman (or Daredevil, as befits the image). It’s become its own thing nowadays.

You may have seen it.

It’s why some people think I’m a great raconteur, an entertainer, and (at work anyway) a well-connected, gregarious individual who can light up a room and spin the conversational wheel of fortune around the table.

But that is itself a mask, an emblem, a symbol.

My mask has a name: H2.

. . . to be continued