I (Sort Of) Fell Into the Past Last Week

This last Tuesday night, I got off the bus after work heading to a place I was staying at for a week while my parents were on vacation.  It’s dark, it’s almost 9:00, and I step off feeling a strong, crazy sense of deja vu.  Deja vu was easily the appropriate phrase of that week, as I walked down very familiar streets and took very familiar bus routes, all around where I used to live with family friends nearly three years ago.  At the time, it was common for me to get off work fairly late and head back home, getting dropped off at the same spot and walking the distance to finish my trip.  Only this time, since I was staying somewhere else, after passing a street and walking a few blocks, I took a right instead of a left.  That’s when the similarities practically ended, and it’s jarring.

When I went back to the house the second night there last week, I had to remind myself out loud to take a different turn than what I remember being used to.  It was a weird experience feeling like I had fallen into the past.  Just to make it even weirder, I played music on my iPhone that I used to listen to all the time during my trips back home three years ago.  Then, while reliving these walks over a couple nights, I got to reflect on what has changed in my life.  I got to reflect on how I’ve changed.

Nearly four years ago was when I went through some of the worst depression I’ve ever experienced in my life before and since.  It was a cluster of different factors that caused this, but while I have a few fond memories of that time period, I realize they’re honestly few and far between, especially when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture of it all.  While walking back to the place I was staying at, I also happened to be texting my girlfriend, even joking that I have fallen into the past and that I’m talking to my girlfriend from the future, which made the whole experience even stranger.  Three years ago, I didn’t have a phone plan, so there was no texting while walking back home.  I even stopped at the crossroads where I had to take a right and took pictures of the same streetlights I took pictures of three years ago.  It was an experience of revisiting the past, but also realizing what I’ve gained since then.  A higher self-esteem, a better view of myself, an amazing girlfriend whom I’ve been with for nearly two years now and, though it’s a small thing, a freaking phone plan.  I even spent a few minutes thanking God for the things I learned at the time and what I’ve gained since then.

The second half of the week was almost another beast entirely.  It’s possible the gloomy weather had something to do with it, but I felt more down about being in the neighborhood.  I wished that things didn’t go as badly as they did back then, and I wished for some of the things I lost at that time.  It goes to show that not all wounds just disappear overnight.  People still have scars, and it takes years for some people to truly heal.  Nearly three years isn’t that long a time.  During this time, I had to basically rebuild my self-esteem from the ground up and seek out counseling in order to get help moving on.  Even after all this, a few scars still remain.  I still think about that nine-month period from over three years ago at least once or twice a week.  Still, one thing I did realize even with the lower second half of the week, I am stronger than I was then.  I have a much more positive view of myself now.  I actually kind of like myself now, which is saying a lot compared to how I felt several years ago.  I want to live a life of purpose and go far.  I’d be lying if I said that that’s exactly what I wanted for myself several years ago.

To all those who rooted for me at that time and still do now, thank you.

My Top 5 Favorite and Most Highly Recommended Books Of All Time

This week I’m doing something a little different.  I’ve been reading for more than half of my life now and occasionally I’ll run into a book that turns out to be something truly special.  They connect with me in a way very few other books can.  That being said, I’m going to list my top five favorite and most strongly recommended books of all time (in no particular order), with a few reasons attached for why I love each book.  One thing I’d just like to say right off the bat is that each book is almost an entirely different genre and the story very different, which personally makes me happy because it means there’s a variety of different genres that have appealed to me.  So without further ado, let’s jump in!

  1. Eli by Bill Myers (2000) – Eli is about a man named Conrad who ends up in a terrible car accident that puts him in a comatose state.  Even though he’s in the hospital in comatose, Conrad finds himself thrust into a world where Jesus has come to earth for the first time in the modern day, not two thousand years ago.  It’s a powerful story involving some of the same themes as the Gospels, but with a modern twist.  Many events from the Gospels are retold here with a modern sheen to make it more relatable.  This book really moved me to tears, reminding me of Jesus’s sacrifice and how He has his own versions of justice and mercy (two words that are actually brought up rather frequently in this book) that far transcends our own understanding.  It’s a story about a man’s second chance of redemption while on the verge of death.  Because it came out eighteen years ago, it might feel a little dated in terms of the modern implications, but if you don’t mind hopping back to a time before social media and iPhones (yeah, I knew you would), then this book will not disappoint.  I read it in 2011, eleven years after the book came out, and it still connected with me just as well as it would’ve back in 2000.

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) – Cormac McCarthy has always been an author that approaches his stories with unique writing styles, and this one is no exception.  This story is about a man and his son (both left nameless) traveling through post-apocalyptic America.  It’s a simple premise with a very bleak, tragic, and somber atmosphere.  We’re never told what happened that caused America to become the wasteland it is in this book, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling or even just simply good.  Cormac writes with broken grammar, reflecting the brokenness that is the world the father and son now live in.  There are no chapter breaks despite it being over 300 pages long, and even the dialogue feels broken and repetitive (you’ll also need to read closely for the dialogue since there are no quotation marks).  The style in which the book was written is just as affecting as the story that’s told, and there’s very little hope offered here.  However, there’s just enough of a spark that’ll make you want to keep reading.  You find yourself rooting for the father and son to make it to their destination and find a happier life in a place that’s unbelievably bleak, where animals no longer exist, fires rage, and cannibals roam the lands.  It is a real treasure, and I highly recommend it as well as a walk under the sun afterwards.  This book will really make you realize how good you have it.

3. What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson (1978) – In 2013, I went through a Richard Matheson phase, where I was going out and reading all kinds of books and short stories he wrote, some of them I loved and some of them not so much, but regardless I was hopelessly intrigued with his writing.  Finally, I picked up What Dreams May Come, which was a different kind of story than what I was used to by Matheson, given that he wrote a lot of horror.  While there are a few elements of horror in the story, this is something deeply profound.  It’s about a man named Chris who dies in a car accident (yes, another car accident book) and goes to Paradise in the afterlife (this is not heaven from the Bible, sorry).  Shortly afterwards, his wife commits suicide in the wake of her husband’s death and ends up going to hell.  Determined to be reunited with his wife, Chris is willing to descend down into hell to rescue her so that she doesn’t have to continue enduring eternal suffering.  This is a powerful book but a controversial one too.  Many Christians would probably take issue to how much this book contradicts what the Bible says about the afterlife.  Now, I’m well aware that this is fantasy and don’t believe a lot of the things this book depicts, but it does support questions I’ve had about the afterlife.  If a loved one of mine doesn’t make it to heaven but I do, how would I really feel?  Surely I wouldn’t just shrug it off, right?  If you go into this book knowing it’s fantasy, then you’ll probably enjoy this book just as it is.  I for one highly recommend it.

4. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick – This book has stuck to me like a fly that just won’t go away.  Several years after reading it for the first time, it still lingers in the back of my mind.  It’s like honey and glue sticking to my brain.  It makes me cry whenever I open it to certain sections.  I still think about it often, and I’ve recommended it to several other people.  This book is about a young man named Leonard, whose eighteenth birthday is the day he plans on killing his ex-best friend and then himself.  Yeah, sounds pretty bleak, and for a while it really is.  For a significant portion of the book, Leonard is in a dark place.  He has his grandfather’s war trophy, a Nazi P-38, which he intends on using against his former friend and himself.  Written with broken prose at times and letters written by Leonard that are meant to come from his future wife and other important people he hopes to have in his life, this book is one of the most moving, emotionally gripping stories I’ve ever read.  It can also be–hard–to recommend to people.  While I personally loved this story for its themes and direction, this is easily the most controversial in the list for its content.  There’s more R-rated content here than in any of the other books, and while I found a lot of it to actually be justified given the context, other readers might feel squeamish reading.  This book deals with depression, trauma, suicide, and loneliness, and Matthew Quick  does not hold back when it comes to depicting these things.  I love this book because of the way Matthew handled the themes, and how I related to a few of the things Leonard was thinking.  The letters in particular really got to me because of the ‘better’ future it painted.  It’s something we all hope for, and it’s one thing that keeps us going.

5. The 39 Deaths Of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway – Finally, there’s this jewel of a book.  Adam Strand isn’t depressed, he’s just bored.  So he kills himself.  Thirty-nine times.  Each time he kills himself, he comes back to life unscathed from his attempt and walks it off like it was nothing.  He wants to die and stay dead, but for some reason (one we’ll never actually find out) he can’t seem to stay dead.  There’s actually very little story to speak of here, but that’s actually part of its beauty.  It remains engaging by showing us how Adam’s life goes and how this ability to come back to life affects him.  He eventually comes to learn that there’s more he needs to do in his life, even if they may just be little things.  With the exception of Adam’s strange resurrection power, this book is very grounded.  The character development is subtle at its finest, and the few relationships Adam has feel organic and vulnerable.  By the end of the book, Adam isn’t a ‘changed man’, but he’s close enough to be well on his way.  The book doesn’t fall into most YA cliches, and every time you think it’s about to, it takes you in a completely different direction and introduces something different.  Gregory Galloway is a literary genius, and I’m honestly shocked that this book isn’t being read in a college class.  If a sloppy, graphic movie like mother! is being shown in classes, then this book has every right to be read.  This is a strong recommend if you don’t mind a little language and of course some details involving suicide attempts (that of course, end up fruitless in the end).

 

Autism Awareness Month Is Upon Us Again

Well, I was going to write and publish Part 2 of Intellectualism vs Emotion this week, but then I realized that it’s now Autism Awareness Month.  Several years ago, I decided that this blog was going to have a specific theme, and if you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’re well aware that that theme is autism.

Now it’s National Autism Awareness Month.  More often than usual, you’re seeing the color blue around.  The White House was lit in a solid blue just the other night to acknowledge this month.  The employees in the County Sheriff’s office in Johnson County, Kansas is acknowledging the month by wearing blue Autism Speaks bands which they received as donations.  Today, the Newton Learning Center will be celebrating the month with their fifth annual Reno Aces Night.  Tenth grader, Briana Ward, a young teen on the autism spectrum, will be throwing out the first pitch in the game.  I think it’s great that autism has its own month in the year to really be acknowledged and respected.  This of course, doesn’t mean that autism and how it affects people should be ignored for the remaining eleven months in the year, but seeing as how the autism spectrum gets its own month to be noticed is a step in the right direction.

Given it’s National Autism Awareness Month, different news outlets and people have published tips for how to understand autism.  One in particular I’ve found is from Julia Hood from the Pingree Autism Center of Learning.  Her tips are as follows:

  • Recognize that you cannot always tell if a child has autism – or other disabilities – just by looking at them. (My own note: this is especially true for individuals who are high-functioning).
  • Don’t judge others by their child’s behavior. It is important to be understanding that there could be more going on than just what appears.
  • If a family member or friend has a child with autism, offer to help them. Ask, “Is there something I can do to help you?” (My own note: This is especially helpful for school or college students on the spectrum.  We need to be willing to accommodate).
  • Educate yourself about autism and other disabilities, especially “invisible disabilities”.
  • If you do know a family with a child who has autism, find out what their interests are prior to scheduling an activity. Also, find out if there are certain things that are ‘triggers’ and lead to disruptive behavior.

This year, upon learning that National Autism Awareness Month was upon us again, it makes me think about the people on the spectrum in my life.  I think about my middle brother, my girlfriend, and a few friends of mine who are on the spectrum.  I think about how diverse they actually are when it comes to their place on the spectrum.  That’s why autism is referred to as a ‘spectrum’ to begin with.  All people on the spectrum may have a few traits in common, but all of them also have vastly different traits as well.  That’s why when you meet one person who has autism, you’ve met only one person on the spectrum, not all.  It’s one of the ways that autism is unique.  If there is one message that I want to send to people for National Autism Awareness Month this year, it’s this: be careful to not lump all autistic people in the same group.  Understand that all autistic people have their own unique places on the spectrum, which makes them different.  Don’t let this discourage you when it comes to learning about them or trying to understand them.  Research is key, but you can also ask autistic people questions.  A lot of people on the spectrum who have been diagnosed are willing to answer any questions you might have, and even if it’s difficult for them to explain certain things, sometimes all it takes is an observant eye to recognize certain behaviors, habits, and patterns.

So in conclusion, I encourage you this month to take some time to learn about autism, and how you can make people on the spectrum feel more welcome in this world.

Intellectualism vs. Emotion: How We Can Differentiate Between the Two Part 1

I’m keeping the post short today with some facts I’ve learned recently while doing research on intellectualism.  A lot of people on the autism spectrum tend to be intellectual rather than emotional.  Now, the general idea most people have about intellectualism is that it’s supposed to mean ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’.  What it actually means is pretty different, but with a few similarities.  People who have an intellectual mind are people who make decisions based on what is rational or logical, rarely what their ‘feelings’ or ’emotions’ are telling them.  To put it simply, people with an intellectual thought process make decisions from the brain, not from the heart.  The idea that the person processes things from a ‘logical’ standpoint is where a lot of people tend to think of intellectualism as simple ‘smarts’, when in reality it really is just the ability to observe things in a way that most people should.  Using your head more than your heart is something that has always proven to be the smarter choice anyway.  Using your heart has proven to lead to hasty, irrational decision making that I myself have done to a fault too.

My girlfriend is a perfect example of one I know personally who makes decisions based on rationalism and logic.  She’s easily the Spock in the relationship and I’m the Kirk.  She’s the brains of the relationship and I’m the heart, as we both have acknowledged at one time.  Though this has sometimes led to us butting heads over certain things, we don’t try to encourage each other to think more like the opposite of how we already think.  Allowing the relationship to be balanced out through two different modes of thinking has allowed us to feel satisfied in the relationship since we’ve been willing to make compromises for each other, and we learn to understand how the other thinks, therefore we don’t try to do the same thing over and over again.  I have the tendency to feel emotions across a wide range and in certain points to an extreme, while my girlfriend mostly stays reserved and only feels about two or three emotions, most of the time feeling them in the extreme since they’re not things she feels often in the first place.

Now, to cap this short article off, not every person on the autism spectrum is an ‘intellectual’.  Obviously, since I’ve been diagnosed on the spectrum and I’m writing this blog.  There are people on the spectrum who think intellectually and there are people who aren’t on the spectrum that think intellectually (I can even think of a few people I know who are in the latter).  What I’ve observed when it comes to intellectuals and emotional people who happen to be on the spectrum, I’ve found that if a person fits one category, it’s usually to the extreme.  An autistic intellectual may seem like he or she has very little emotion at all and can even come off as mechanical.  This isn’t to say of course that we should just assume they have no emotion at all and therefore treat the person differently.  People have some range of emotions no matter how limited it may be.  An autistic person who’s driven by emotions might act dramatic as he goes about it and work tirelessly to succeed in doing something if it’s on his (keyword:) heart.  As I’ve said before, autism is a wide spectrum, and while most people on it will share some of the same traits, most of them have very different traits as well.

 

Shrink Your Weaknesses To Present Your Strengths

 

My youngest brother has been watching through The Office lately since it’s streaming on Netflix.  Occasionally, I watch it a little bit with him when it’s on, and I realize now that the only reason why I sit to watch is because of the character Jim. He is, without a doubt, one of the most laid back, comfortable, secure, relaxed people I’ve ever seen in a TV show or movie.  Almost nothing seems to phase him, he doesn’t grow really anxious over anything, and he has a passive demeanor with the ability to carry himself as if he doesn’t have a care in the world.  I watch him and wish I had some of those traits of his in better supply.  It’s hard for me to think of someone around my age who’s on the autism spectrum and has all the traits that Jim has.  certainly don’t have everything he has.

Does this make me jealous?  Not necessarily.  Do I aspire to be and wish I was a little more like him?  Probably, yeah.

I can certainly live a life with less anxiety and stress where I’m constantly trying to predict every future event and have my days where every little thing irritates me or bugs me if I’m feeling under the weather (like today).

I can certainly live a life where everything both big and small doesn’t phase me, shorten my temper, or get me mentally panicking or just debating.

I can certainly live a life where my mind is quieter and my thoughts are more straightforward without feeling like they’re just ‘flipping through channels’ without settling on one thing and sticking with it.

I can certainly live a life without my thoughts playing themselves in my head as an endless string of worst case scenarios and, at times, best case scenarios that tend to border on fantasy.

Some of these things are fixable, even for people on the spectrum or people who have anxiety in general.  Others may not be able to go away completely, but there are things one can do to at least reduce these occurrences and strengthen both mind and body.  There are many ways to do this, but something you can definitely do for starters is to not compare your own life to the lives of fictional characters.  The Office for example is a comedy.  A lot of situations in the show are either somewhat or completely unrealistic (Superstore is another example I can think of when it comes to lack of realism, something that the show is plagued with).  The characters are usually one-note and are defined by those single-trait personalities.  We as real humans have a variety of emotions, strengths, and weaknesses.  So if you wish to be a ‘better’ person, sort through your weaknesses and seek out solutions to reduce them so that your strengths are more present and have more time to ‘shine through’.  If you wish to be more laid back and feel more comfortable in your own skin, recognize your weaknesses first and put effort into shrinking them down.

A Response To My Father’s Previous Blog Post About Growth

 

My dad, Lee Bezotte, has his own blog where he covers a variety of different topics related to personal growth, whether it’s working on trying to get healthier, smarter, or more spiritually adept.  Recently, he published a blog post called ‘4 Reasons Why Personal Growth Is So Hard’, which you can read here.  To sum it up though, my dad explains how it takes humility, investment, focus, and time in order to experience personal growth in different areas of your life.

While reading his post, I couldn’t help but look at the publication date and think that maybe, just maybe, this was written in response to some issues I was facing around that time about pushing myself to do the things I need to do to become fully independent.  I can’t speak for him obviously, and there’s nothing wrong with the post to begin with, it’s just that the timing of the post seemed both convenient and right, so you can look at this as me expanding on my dad’s ideas from a different perspective.

For some people, they may struggle to find the motivation needed to make something of their lives, but for me personally, it’s a little harder.  I get tired easily, which speaks about my lack of sleep routine and sometimes even my lack of drinking water or eating healthy (although I’m happy to say that drinking water has gotten better for me, including having completely avoided almost all sodas).  The obsessions for different media such as movies, games, and books that come with being in my place on the autism spectrum tends to put me in a position where I might feel stuck.  Let’s be perfectly honest, whether you’re autistic or not, thinking about the different aspects of certain movies and TV shows is far more pleasant than overanalyzing relationships and thinking about where you’ll be in the next ten years.  For me, thinking about the things that ultimately don’t matter gives me a sense of comfort.  When I’ve been confronted in the past for messing up, my thoughts turn to more pleasant things because I get overly stressed from all the emotions piling on in my head.  I may have a wider emotional range than others on the spectrum, but that doesn’t exactly mean I’m great at managing or juggling them.  When I was a kid, the way I expressed or felt emotions were typically to the extreme, and in a way, that’s still the case today.  They keep me from going to bed at times and they can stress me out when I’m at work.  My mind gets easily distracted and I zone out.  Things I could’ve easily gotten done in a timely manner sometimes don’t get done.

By no means am I trying to use these things as excuses for my lack of motivation at times.  They’re things I struggle with.  They’re obstacles that keep me from moving at a pace that I should be moving to shape the life I want for myself.  Technically I have pretty clear ideas of what I want to do with my life.  They’re all things that I want and wish to work towards, but no matter how much I may want them, I still struggle to make progress.  As my dad said in his blog post, we’re a very easily distracted culture, and I as an individual who dwells within this culture am no exception, except I also have some of the autistic traits that make it harder for me to be the most productive I can be day in and day out.  It’s going to take a lot more discipline for me, just as it does for others on the spectrum.  Some of that discipline will require sacrificing things that you love doing most, which can be a painful process but a worthwhile one.  On top of that, people on the spectrum typically can’t obtain the discipline on their own.  When I decided that I wanted to take a break from Facebook for a while, to ensure that I would actually stick to that, I asked my mom to block Facebook on my devices using an app where she could do that with any device in the house connected to the Wi-Fi.

To wrap this up, I’m going to admit something to you that would probably make some people feel uncomfortable but it’s necessary to say: in order to have the time you need to have a better focus on achieving your goals, get rid of any and all potential distractions.  Tear down your Facebook app for a while, or better yet, turn off your phone completely unless you’re expecting an important call.  If you’re working offline and you don’t need the Internet, turn off your Wi-fi.  I’ve actually done this before, and it’s rather effective.  The more distractions you eliminate, the greater your chances will be in getting work done and getting it done right.  Know what distracts you the most and do what you have to do to overcome that.  By doing so, you will be exchanging momentary pleasure or entertainment for greater and more fulfilling things in the future.  Admittedly, this is still a lesson I’m currently learning, but I take comfort in the fact that I’m actually thinking about this and wanting to reshape parts of my life.  Sure ‘wanting’ is not the same thing as ‘doing’, but it’s a start, and if you’re already wanting to do more to benefit your life in a way that’s more lasting and you formulate your own plan to get there, you’re already taking an enormous step.

 

Decision Making RPGs Can Be An Introvert’s Worst Nightmare

There are a lot of different ways you can learn the personality traits, habits, and quirks of an introvert, but in my most recent memory, no learning experience is quite like when you’re playing a decision making RPG with an introvert.

I recently played the video game Life Is Strange with my introverted girlfriend.  To explain briefly what it is, Life Is Strange is a decision making game where you the player is given choices throughout the game that will affect certain outcomes in the story.  Some of the decisions you make are even some of the simplest things such as choices in dialogue when you interact with other characters.  And that’s pretty much all you really need to know about the game in order to understand the context of this post.  What transpired throughout this hour and a half playing with my girlfriend was some of the most informative and mind-bending time I’ve ever spent with her (and we’re still only in Episode 1 of 5 in this game).  In this time, I’ve learned several things about her that nods to her introvert side, as well as her autism and even a little bit of her moral compass.  When playing video games like Life Is Strange, it’s pretty easy to just cast aside most of our own moral viewpoints and try different things in the game out of curiosity of how it impacts the story.  We have a desire to explore the depths of the game and see what kinds of consequences arise due to our actions.

Well, my girlfriend has no such desire.  In entering the game, she does not leave her moral values, introverted personality, and routine mindedness at the door.  By bringing everything she is with her, she brings a rather jarring but honestly oddly inspiring play-through of a video game.  Allow me to list some examples.

1. Every decision she made, whether it was the words she said to characters or the decisions she made that affected the story, had to be ‘just right’.

My girlfriend said once when going into Dungeons and Dragons that she didn’t want to do anything in a game that she wouldn’t do in real life.  In a game, she is completely and thoroughly herself.  When faced with a decision to make in Life Is Strange, even smaller ones that really have no impact on the storyline at all, she feels instantly pressured.  As an introvert, she has proven that she needs time to really think over decisions, so when she needs to make a decision within the moment, she blanks out.  While playing, she asked me what I would do in certain situations.  That pressure to make a decision that’s the right one was there and strong, despite the fact that in the case of this game, your character has the power to rewind time and go back and make a different decision than the one you made before.  She had an undeniable persistence to make decisions that were within her moral compass.  One example of this was being kind to a bully even though that bully gave her no reason to be.  Risk-taking has no room in her mind, and not knowing what was going to happen when she would finally make a decision was the most nervous I had ever seen her.

2. Her introverted personality means that she doesn’t just have a difficult time talking to people (particularly strangers) in real life, she has a difficult time talking to people in a game too.

Over the past couple months, it has become increasingly obvious to me that talking to people she doesn’t know is intimidating to my girlfriend, and that if someone isn’t with her like me or a family member, she would rather stay away.  This is really no exception in a video game like Life Is Strange.  Even though I was sitting next to her while playing, her mind was immersed in the reality of the game, and as far as she was concerned, she was talking to strangers alone.  She preferred keeping conversations short, and not prying other characters for details about their personal lives.  It was all about saying the bare minimum that needed to be said and then moving on to the next thing, keeping a brisk pace as she went about it.  At several points while playing the game, she was presented with several options for dialogue that she criticized because of the fact that all the options were practically the same, just worded differently.  She also criticized how unnatural some of the dialogue sounded, pointing out that people simply don’t talk that way (I never said it was the most well written game out there).  Criticisms like these actually stumped her at times, because she didn’t know how to proceed without the conversation feeling awkward.

3. And finally, the stereo story and breaking into a room

My girlfriend is a person of routine, which I suppose you can connect with both autism and the personality of an introvert.  What had to be the most jarring part of playing the game with her was when I attempted to be funny by turning on the stereo in the main character’s dorm room and then leaving the room with the stereo still on.  My girlfriend hated this, and insisted I go back and turn the stereo off since it’s ‘a waste of electricity’.  Yes, that’s right.  My girlfriend was thinking about the electric bill in a video game.  That sense of routine and responsibility is with her even when playing a video game like Life Is Strange.  When the main character had to go into someone else’s room while she wasn’t there in order to find something of importance, my girlfriend urged me to be fast so that we wouldn’t get caught, even though I knew we weren’t going to.  I assured her of this, but she wanted me to be quick anyway, which again emphasizes how meticulously she thinks of everything, even in a game.

Even now, my mind is racing trying to figure out what all of my girlfriend’s habits and quirks while playing the game link back to.  Some habits were very obviously her introverted personality but others seemed like something else entirely.  Autism possibly, but not overtly so.  My girlfriend told me it was simple immersion, though in this case I’d argue the immersion was far deeper than even find myself in in video games.  Often times I just play them for the fun of it.  If nothing else, this story illustrates what certain scenarios can present for a couple on the autism spectrum, or even simply a couple with one person being introverted.  It’s a wild, weird world and I’m speechless at times when I’m a part of it, but I also can’t help but be drawn to it.  So yeah, if you’d really like to see what makes you and your significant other different from each other, play a game like Life Is Strange.  You might be surprised what you’ll encounter.

Bringing A Little Compassion To Valentine’s Day

It’s the week of Valentine’s Day again for the world.  For some people, it’s considered a holiday excuse to go out with their significant other and have a good time while for others it’s Singles Awareness Day.  In the past, I’ve posted blogs with dating and relationship advice, including specifically for people on the autism spectrum.  This is primarily a blog site about life and experiences on the autism spectrum after all.  To mix things up and try something different this time however, I will be tackling how people who are in relationships should look at those who are not, more specifically how our perspectives should be on people who are single and on the spectrum.

For me personally, the truth of how much it can hurt for a person on the autism spectrum to feel alone comes out the strongest through my middle brother.  Many times he has pointed out to me how he doesn’t feel like he has it in him to attract any potential partner and that no girl will ever like him.  Sadly, this sort of mindset can be common in other people on the spectrum as well.  The documentary Autism In Love is an excellent example of showing us an individual on the spectrum who feels like he has no real worth that any woman would find in him.  In this case, the young man even goes so far as to hate the fact that he has autism, because he feels like it is ultimately the obstacle blocking him from being able to be successful with dating, and even successful in other areas in life.

If you’re in a healthy relationship with a good partner and find yourself happy in it, congratulations!  You jumped through some high hoops and worked hard to get to where you are now.  Obviously, you should feel proud of yourself for making it in a dating relationship and for doing all the hard work that comes with it.  It is never okay however, to think that you’re above people who are single and haven’t succeeded in winning someone over.  You’re not ‘better’ than that person.  The same goes for autistic people who have struggled to get into a dating relationship.  If a person on the spectrum is struggling to romantically bond with someone, chances are that person is struggling in other areas too.  Like anyone else, that person has areas that he or she needs to grow in before being able to take certain steps in life.  Everyone has to do that, and everyone does it in different ways.  So when a person on the spectrum is having trouble, understand that that person has limits and needs extra help doing things that others take for granted, and that includes being able to bond with others, even if it’s to be just friends.  It’s hard enough sometimes for an autistic person to make friends, so naturally it’s an even greater challenge for an autistic person to date someone.

It’s alright to point out the things that a person may be doing wrong, but it’s important to be encouraging as you go about it.  Believe me, as someone on the spectrum myself, I can confirm that encouraging words make a world of a difference.  They can inspire and motivate anyone, even autistic people who can prove to be challenging to communicate with.  It might take a little more time and effort, but it does leave a positive effect.  Autistic people are more likely to work towards changing some of their behaviors and habits that are inappropriate socially if the person telling them what needs to be fixed is encouraging and life-giving.  Be life-giving, and you may see that person with someone else, be it friend or date, in due time.

Valentine’s Day is a romantic time for people in relationships (the consumerism and Hallmark leadership of the holiday is irrelevant here) while it may be a somewhat depressing time for people who are not.  It can play as a reminder that they’re alone.  If we see ourselves on the same level as everyone else though, and choose to carry compassion for those who feel alone, then you might just be partially responsible for a Valentine’s Day where someone who once felt lonely is now happily out with a special someone.