I wanted to tell a story. about me. I wanted to explain how I get to where I am. Into a good college, with good friends, and a great family, and how still this will likely forever be the most challenging year of my life.
I don’t think, I am that different from anyone, in that we all have major differences. Those things that we come to believe define us. The things that make us the, miserable, sometimes confident, sometimes self-doubting, always determined, breed called teenagers,
Maybe you are not smart enough, perhaps too smart. Poor household, poor group of supporters. You are a a minority. Black, gay, muslim. You will forever be determined to overcome these stereotypes pinned against you, and for that, you are already amazing. My defining thing, I like to think, is fairly similar. I’m autistic.
My story of how I got here begins there, back at Shady Side, when my one friend abandoned me. Wouldn’t talk to me, not even to say why. I left a year later, and, to the sadness of my classmates. They loved me, but I felt alone. And I wasn’t yet sure why.
I got to my current school, and like most new kids, had trouble making friends. But unlike most new kids, I didn’t learn. Even still I don’t always know. That is the curse of autism, at least for me. You could appear normal in every way, but there is this one difference about you. And for me, I just never felt comfortable in a social setting. I would work into a room and not knowing what to do, just do the first thing that came into my mind. I would laugh, because it would make me feel happy, I would dance because it made me feel free. I would try to be kind to people in hopes that I could feel more comfortable around people, but this never worked.
What keeps me going is confident, nay hope, that things will change, but the change starts with me. Whether I am around friends or enemies, I feel like I am going to mess up every second, because I have before, and because of my autism, I worry I may realize my mistakes too late.
And you could take this as a sad story, but I urge you not too. Because the biggest connection I share with all teenagers, is the longing to fit in. I will keep trying, as should you, to overcome every obstacle. And I have been, because only a couple years ago, I would never be able to write this. Only a couple days ago, I would be horrified to share this. That I am autistic, that I am lonely, that even just saying this, it is hard to convince myself, I am not selfish. Because my battles should be so much less than what others must work through. But it is a battle for me, 18 years strong.