The Power Of Uniqueness Over Feeling Like Something Is Wrong With You

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I really don’t know why I chose this picture, just roll with it.

Just the other day, I gave my diagnosis report to my parents to hold onto and basically keep away from me so that I can’t read it again.  I’ve already reread it over and over again.  To explain briefly, the diagnosis report stated that I was on the Autism Spectrum, as well as explained different things about me they figured out through the psych testing I did a few months ago.  Some of the things mentioned in the report had taken an emotional toll on me, because they were very negative, and it discouraged me and made me depressed.  It talked about my anxiety, depression, and the feelings of hopelessness that parades through my mind from time to time.  To make matters worse, I was reading those sections more times than I think my psychologist even expected me to.

I finally talked to my psychologist on the phone earlier this week to get some clarification on certain areas of the report that I didn’t quite understand, which meant revisiting the report.  Again.  The uncomfortable transition from one mood to the next (from positive to negative) made it crystal clear to me that it was a bad idea to keep looking at it.  So, after getting some feedback from a few friends and even getting the same advice from my therapist, I finally handed the report over to my parents to hold onto.  This doesn’t mean I’m ignoring what the report says and pretending that what the report says is not true about me.  It’s my way of making my own statement, which says: “that report doesn’t define me.  My own person is not what the report describes me to be”.

With so much focus on the negative listed on the report, it was becoming harder to focus on the positive things about me.  Also, I believe that some of the negative things about myself can be used for good somehow, but I wasn’t thinking about that aspect while reading and rereading the report.  I was only asking myself the question, “what’s wrong with me?”

Nothing’s wrong with me.  I’m human.  We all have our flaws.  We’re all born with traits that make us unique.  I would also like to point out the fact that as a believer in God and a follower of Christ, I need to focus on how God sees me.  If you yourself feel like something is wrong with you and that you have problems, remember that you’re unique and you’re special and, if you believe in God, you know that you’re loved by Him.

Nothing in the report should’ve surprised me, given that most of the information was stuff that I had suspected about myself for a while now anyway.  Yet somehow, seeing it all put down on a piece of paper was almost like a solid confirmation and it deeply affected me.  So I gave it away.  There’s no way that report should discourage me.  I’m special, unique, and loved.

Five Things To Expect In My Fiction Writing

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Every fiction writer has his or her own habits and traits when it comes to their own stories, and I’m no exception.  I have my own odd habits when I write stories and hobbies that inspire certain ideas for my stories, both in terms of original fiction and fanfiction.  Here are five things to know about my fiction writing.

1. When I’m trying to weave ideas together in my head, I listen to a particular song over and over and over and over again.  The lyrics and tone would remind me of a story I’m trying to figure out how to tell and it helps me zero in on that idea in my thoughts to flesh it out and put it down on paper effectively.  One song I’ve been listening to repeatedly lately is “How To Save A Life” by The Fray because of recent ideas forming in my head.

2. I don’t sugar-coat.  I write things exactly as they are.  Being a believer in God, many other Christ-followers would expect you to write stories that are free of most kinds of inappropriate content.  If you look at Christian movies like God’s Not Dead and Do You Believe?, they are typically free of most kinds of inappropriate content such as intense violence, sexual content, and language.  Most characters in my stories are not Christians to begin with, so I don’t expect them to behave like Christians would expect themselves to.  I don’t go over-the-top or graphic with content, but I do intend on being realistic.  To Save A Life would be a good example of a Christian movie that isn’t afraid to have some inappropriate content in it in order to serve the story and present its message.

3. I’m never afraid to kill characters off.  Maybe Lemony Snicket inspired that part of my writing in me, but know this: if you catch me listening to rap, I’m most likely thinking about killing off a particular character and the “fight scene” or incident when that unfortunate fate befalls the character.

4. I don’t believe in the “happily ever after” ending.  If I have a complex story to tell, the ending is not Disney-happy by any means.  Most of the time, I shoot for bittersweet endings, so that you can feel happy for the characters but also feel a little sad about the events that had transpired throughout the story and feel a sense of loss for the characters that had died (refer to #1).  I also don’t like ending stories that have a 100% sense of finality to them.  I like leaving a few things open-ended, not because I always want to write sequels (though in some cases that does happen), but because I want to let the reader know that the lives of the characters are still continuing on.

5. I don’t write to entertain.  I write to inform.  Sure my stories can definitely be entertaining, especially if the genre involved is something the reader really enjoys, but I don’t write stories simply for the purpose of entertaining someone.  It may be fiction, but I write stories to make people think.  I love philosophy and psychology, so issues of morality and consequences of actions are big themes in my stories, and they either have good outcomes or almost tragic outcomes depending what I believe is best for the story (and also depending on my current mood, I’ve been noticing that).  I don’t write to make the reader feel happy or sad or angry or anything.  I write to make the reader think, and any emotions the reader draws up as a result of his thinking is entirely based on his point of view.

Different Is Good, But Different Is Hard

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The last ten days or so has probably been one of the most painfully confusing times of my life.  Last Wednesday, I got my diagnosis report from going through psych testing a little over a month ago, and I realize now that reading all fourteen pages shortly before going to bed was probably not the best thing for me to do.

I have been diagnosed to be on the Autism Spectrum, on a high-functioning rate.  While this honestly didn’t come as much of a surprise to me or my family, it wasn’t easy for me to read the report.  For some reason, diagnosis reports are written in such a way that it sounds very dramatic.  Being that I’m a dramatic person myself, I took the “drama” of it pretty seriously, and some of the information in the report got me thinking which led to overthinking, which led to a lot of anxiety and in some cases, fear.  I already analyze myself more than enough as it is, so it wasn’t very pleasant at all to start doing it even more than I already do.  I went through mood swings and experienced a lot of emotional stress that affected the way I viewed myself and my purpose in life.  Hence why my previous blog post about having vision in my life was meant to be more for myself as a therapeutic practice than it was to be for anyone reading.

Multiple people have told me to not allow the report to define me for who I am, and to all those people you have my deepest thanks.  I knew pretty quickly that allowing that to happen wasn’t the way to go, but my mind takes a frustratingly long time to reach decisions, so it took me a while to get myself grounded in that.  I’m happy to say that I’m there now, but the journey to reach that point was difficult and stressful.  It’s not that I didn’t want to tell myself not to let the report define me, it’s that there was a part of me that was having a very hard time resisting the idea of defining myself in a very negative way.

I’ve always known that I’m different, and that I’m not like everyone else, and for some reason that was a hard truth for me to accept, but different is good.  It makes me unique and it makes you the reader unique.  Different is good, but different is also hard because we’re constantly pressured by the culture to be a certain way, which can cause us to wander off in directions that would be damaging for us.  I am me, and there’s no one else like me, and that makes me special.  I know I probably sound like a pretty insecure person, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I definitely can be, but I’m working my way up from that mindset.  God has a plan for me that involves my talents, some of which I may not even have discovered yet.  I guess if there’s anything I really want to “preach” in this article per se, I would tell you to accept the fact that you’re different and embrace that.  I’m sure that lesson has been used to the death, but given what’s been going on in the last week with me, that’s the lesson I want to give this week and that’s the lesson I’ve been learning myself.

The Importance Of Vision In My Life

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Where there is no vision, the people perish - Proverbs 29:18a

Recently I’ve been thinking about my own view of the world.  I confess that I see the world as I’d like it to be, not the way it actually is.  I learned from past experience that if I look at the world exactly as it is, then I have no hope for myself or my future, and I end up spiraling down into a depression that eats away at me with very little mercy, because I see so little good through that perspective.  I’ve had to build fantasies in my head with positive ideas of what my future may hold, even if some of those ideas may look a bit unrealistic to a lot of other people.  They’re a comfort when I’m struggling to hold onto hope for my future.  I’m only twenty.  I like to think I’m going to live for eighty more years, and thinking that fills me with hope.

I’m fully aware that I may be lying to myself when I say I have eighty more years to live, but sometimes a lie like that is necessary for people like me to get through life with perseverance, hope, and feeling encouraged.

You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do” – Frodo from Return of the King

Everybody has these fantasy perceptions of the world, whether they’re aware of it or not.  Some are aware and some are not.  I’m one of those people who is aware and intentionally keeps it, because I know that it’s better than constantly seeing the world for what it actually is.  I can’t live like that, because I’ll never be able to feel relaxed or be without fear.  I would feel constantly overwhelmed, hopeless, and feel worthless.  I need a vision to live for, and whether or not that vision may be realistic of what my future truly holds, it’s important for me to have one.  And who knows, maybe my visions will actually come to pass.  It’s an exciting thought.

Last year I wrote a letter from the future, sent to me by a person I hope to meet some day, and it gave me hope.  It helped me continue on, and I still have it with me that I go back to once in a while.  It helps me to know that where I’m at in life right now isn’t where I’ll be forever, but I must be content with the fact that where I’m at in life right now is where I’m supposed to be and where God means for me to be.  Having dealt with depression before, I know how easy it is to lose hope, but I know that with effort and a desire to pursue my passions, I can eventually get to another place that God has already prepared for me and I will look back on this time now and realize that it was necessary to go through the things I’m going through right now.  I’m excited for my future, and with God having that future in His hands, I have every reason to be. Below is a dialogue exchange from Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick that I found to be very encouraging in continuing to move forward.

My life will get better?  You really believe that?”

It can, if you’re willing to do the work.”

What work?

Not letting the world destroy you.  That’s a daily battle.”

Narrowing The Scope To What Isn’t Always Seen

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This is the first time in a long time where something I was talking about with someone else became a topic I wanted to bring up in a blog post.  This morning, I was telling a friend that people should actually narrow their focus range.  What I mean by that is that they should focus more on the things going on in their own neighborhood then what’s happening behind the curtains of the government or the terrorism of ISIS.

Those are big things that I never really wanted to talk about on my blog, but I’ve mentioned them now so there’s really no going back.  Yes, I’m saying that a lot of people (even Christians) have their focus range way too wide and are more concerned about issues that they ultimately can’t control.  This makes sense though.  People are afraid of things that they have very little to no control over.  They share their opinions about these large things whether other people want to hear them or not, and they debate about them and write stories about them, but at the end of the day, where is it actually taking them?  People say we need to be “aware” of the issues they talk about or write news articles for.  While I agree that people should be aware to an extent (after all, it’s better than having your head completely stuck in the sand), I don’t believe it’s healthy to be hyperaware, as some people are. Regardless of what people think they’re doing by consistently sharing facts and opinions on ISIS for instance, it still invokes fear, and prevents people from having the motivation and the confidence in life, and it can burden them with constant stress and worry.  Believe me, I know this from personal experience.  I had to stop reading about ISIS altogether at one point because it was tearing me down with doubt and feelings of hopelessness, rather than building me up.

It’s one thing to talk about what’s going on out there, but if we can’t do anything about it, what exactly is the point?  People can talk and debate about government issues and the ISIS terrorists, but what exactly is the point if they’re not going to do anything about it?  Since these wider issues are things that we can’t really do anything about, why not narrow the scope so that we can pay attention to the things that we can do something about?

By narrowing the scope, I mean pay attention to the people around you who may need help.  When I went to Royal Family Kids, I was surrounded by abused and neglected foster children who live in the area that I live in, and it opened my eyes to something that I didn’t see before in my day-to-day routine.  It showed me that people who are hurting or need help are all around me.  We can see ISIS, and we can recognize political and economical problems, but we don’t always see what needs our attention when it walks right by us.  We need to open our eyes to the people around us that are hurting.  This really cuts deep to share this, but I myself have felt like that kind of person that needs attention.  I’ve walked down streets surrounded by other people and walked around in stores feeling torn down and depressed, with so much on my mind about my future and what’s going on in the present.  I’m not saying that you need to stop every person you come across and ask him if he’s okay, but I am saying that if you recognize that someone needs help or you feel that someone is having a very hard time, try to help that person in some way.  The way you help might be a small gesture, but it will make a world of a difference to the person.

Other issues around us can be related to school bullying and the people who are without homes or proper shelter.  We have the ability to donate to good causes meant to benefit different things around the world.  We can volunteer for causes in our area like food drives or even well builders.  Wells have been built in places like Africa thanks to donations.  This is to list a few things that we’re capable of changing that goes a little bigger.

As a last note, I personally want to help those who battle with depression and suicidal thoughts.  Depression can potentially come from having heard things in the news that is terrifying and discouraging.  I’ve been through that.  We need to be an encouragement to people, not explain to them more ways that the world can be a pretty scary place.

What I Take With Me From Royal Family Kids

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After my mom got back from her first experience at Royal Family Kids, it was honestly the only thing she would talk about for a while when she got back.  It wasn’t long until she announced that she was going to be the camp director for a Royal Family Kids camp in the area and I half-consciously agreed to be involved, having honestly no idea what I just agreed to.  It was one of those things where I thought what Mom was talking about sounded kind of cool so I felt like doing it (I know, it’s a camp where abused and neglected foster children can feel loved and valued, ‘kind of cool’ sounds like an insult but understand I didn’t really get the whole concept at the time).  I didn’t even really think it through before I told my Mom I’d like to be a part of the camp.

I wish I had enough time in this post to tell you some good stories from my experience at camp last year, but since this is a blog post and people wouldn’t read this post for that long, I will tell you what has impacted me the most in the previous camp I was in.  I can certainly tell you though that when I went to RFK in 2014, I wasn’t expecting to come back and bawl my eyes out.  I wasn’t expecting to be as deeply moved and heartbroken as I ended up being when I came back.  Now, when I say this, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from participating at camp.  It was an emotional experience, but it was also a very rewarding one.  It’s one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done in my life because I spend a week away from home and everything else to hang out with neglected foster children and make them feel loved and cared for.  I get to make them feel like they can have hope for a good life and hope that they are worth something.

In a way I think I got to learn what it’s like to have a son.  This year, I was assigned to be a counselor for a young boy that I will never forget.  I drew a poster board for him with his name and the Biblical meaning of his name and got to hold it up when he arrived in the bus with the other kids and give it to him for him to hold onto, and eventually take home with him when camp ended.  I sat next to him and stayed there with him for almost a half an hour while he cried so that at least he knew that I was there for him.  I got to tell him that I loved him when he felt scared and angry.  I got to make him smile and make him feel special.

On the last day of camp, we have a Royal Family Kids poster that the kids and their counselors take turns signing their names on.  I made sure to take a picture of the part of the poster that has my camper’s name signed and my own name signed underneath it.  That picture is actually my laptop wallpaper now.  I look forward to next year’s camp, and whatever God has in store for me then.  I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous that Mom will assign me to two boys next year.

Experiencing Royal Family Kids

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Last week, I volunteered as a counselor for a camp called Royal Family Kids.  For those of you who don’t know, Royal Family Kids is a camp for abused and neglected foster children.  The essential goal is to give the kids that go some of the most fun they’ve ever had.  We basically treat them like royalty, and we make sure to create new memories with them that they can cherish, which is a great change of pace from the crap they go through in their lives.  Hands down, Royal Family Kids is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m only twenty.  Why is that?  Why do I call it the best thing I’ve ever done?

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to watch over a child and care about him.  I don’t lash out, or hurt the child, or yell at him, or tear him down with words.  My job is to treat the child with the best care possible and make him feel loved and cared for.  For five days, I’m supposed to make the child feel like the most special person in the world.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because with the way I treat the child, hope is inspired in the child.  The child feels loved, therefore he has the assurance that he can be loved and that he deserves to be loved.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to make the child smile, which is something he probably doesn’t get to do often in life because he has very little in his life to smile about.  I get to make the child smile by speaking words of encouragement to him.  The child gets to smile from experiencing fun things like swimming, rock wall climbing, playing frisbee, and doing other things that he deserves to have fun with at his age.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to tell him how special I think he is or how valuable or how amazing he is for no reason other than to just let him know he is special.  The child is so used to hearing negative or hurtful comments from others that words of encouragement is such a powerful and life-changing way to change his perspective on himself and life.

I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to help throw a surprise birthday party for the child, who may not have ever had a birthday party before or even had his birthday acknowledged by anyone else.  I get to make the child feel good that he exists in the first place, because we celebrate the child’s very existence at camp.

Finally, I call it the best thing I’ve ever done because I get to let the child know that even when he seems alone, God is always there with him and loves him and cherishes him more than he can possibly imagine and more than I can.  It was an honor to be a part of the camp for a second time, and God-willing, I’ll continue to do it because it will always have a special place in my heart.  It wasn’t easy, and sometimes it was very rough, and it hurt so much to watch the kids leave to go back to their lives where they will resume experiencing things that they should never have to experience.  With that being said, I’m going to end this with my own quote.

In order to mend someone’s heartsometimes it means getting yours torn a bit in the process.”