My Open Box

I feel like I live in a pretty protected community. That’s not a bad thing. Everyone is really nice and they are willing to help out when needed or asked. Sometimes though, I just feel somewhat out of place. I feel like everyone has their lives wrapped up in nice little boxes, not fancy or anything- I don’t feel like people around me are self centered or pompous. I just feel like most people around me are the stacked up boxes ready to be shipped out of the UPS store. They are “finished” and sealed up and ready to be delivered.

I feel like an open box. I don’t feel like a broken box or a messy box, just an open box. I feel unfinished. In a world where everyone seems to present the completed parts of themselves, I feel like I am somehow behind or missing something. Parts of me are being taken out and rearranged and put back in. Some things are taken out and replaced with better things. It’s just a constant process. I am in a constant process of change and growth. And I don’t see my box being closed up and ready to be sealed anytime soon.

Looking around though, I feel like maybe I am missing something? Maybe I am behind and still need to catch up to everyone else? Is everyone else really done, just with the possibility of being decorated a bit before they’re presented in their best state of being?

I have always been a little behind developmentally. I feel like I went through my teenage years in college, my single years didn’t really start until many years after I turned 18, and I am still working on the whole dating life and getting ready for marriage even though I feel like I should be ready to do those things by now. Is that all this is though? Is it just that I need to catch up to everyone else? Or is it that I haven’t figured out what I need in my box yet?

I guess my question really is when or if my box will ever be closed. Will I ever be done like so many others around me seem to be? Or am I just an open box sort of person, constantly trying to switch out my contents for the next stage in my life?

I know a few other people that are like open boxes. I see them growing and changing and rearranging themselves. I connect with these people. I understand them because that’s how I am. I just sometimes want to be a closed box. I want to be finished, presented in a nice little package for my next stage of life.

I get that we’re never quite “done”. We keep learning and growing and becoming better. I just feel like most of the people around me grow and then get to a comfortable spot and stay there for a while until something new comes along, then grow again and get to a new state of consistency and do it over and over again. And I just wonder if I am missing that consistency or if it is just that I will constantly be different from everyone else. Am I missing out? Or is this just another way of living?

Disconnect

My mind goes a lot faster than the rest of me. It takes me a long time to translate what my mind is thinking into words. I know what I want to say, I just don’t know how to say it. I first have to focus enough on forming the words in my head, then on keeping the words while I focus on finding the opportunity to say them.

When I am sitting in class, I often have many thoughts that come to me. Sometimes I can form those thoughts into words before the teacher moves on, and I have the opportunity to contribute. Usually though, the teacher moves on before I can form my thought and I have to wait for another opportunity where my thought might fit. Or I move on from that thought and start over again.

It can be frustrating sometimes- this disconnect between my thoughts and my ability to communicate or act on those thoughts. I sometimes wish it was easier. It would be less embarrassing. I would be able to contribute more often. I wouldn’t have to work so hard to pay attention and still focus on my thoughts.

But on the other hand, if it wasn’t so hard, I might say things before they should be said. I might offend more people. I might not give meaningful input because I would be more focused on the output. It’s hard to think so much and try so hard when it seems that other people put no work into their thoughts and fill the time with little long-term value.

But I am grateful that it’s so hard because it means that everything I say has been carefully contemplated. Everything I do has a specific purpose and meaning. It gets me in trouble sometimes and can make me look incapable or unintelligent, but I would rather look incompetent than say something that could hurt someone else. In the end, it is worth being slower because it gives my insights that much more thought and meaning.

Grateful for Learning

I go to a scripture study class on Thursday nights. It’s a pretty good class, but more than anything, I am just grateful for how much I learn there. Sometimes the learning is from what is taught, and sometimes it is from thinking about things afterwards. Either way though, I am very grateful for what I learn and the opportunity to learn more through collaboration.

Just Starting

I have been writing this blog for a long time. I have been living with autism (aspergers) for a long time. I have been learning how to seem normal for a long time.

What I haven’t been doing for a long time is learning how to be autistic.

It might seem strange that I would need to learn to be autistic since I have autism, but it’s the reality. I have learned to suppress everything that comes natural to me. I have learned not to stim in public, not to have special interests or at least not talk about them like I want to, not to have meltdowns around others.

And in all non-autistic circles, this is all a great success. I am high functioning. I am as close as you come to “cured”.

But… In autistic circles, I feel like a failure or at least a novice. I don’t know how to allow myself to be autistic. I don’t know how to be comfortable with being autistic. I don’t know if I even want to be autistic.

Is there a middle ground? Can I be autistic and normal and different and perfectly me all at the same time? Do I have to choose between living an autistic life or living a lie? Is that even what the choices are?

Like I said, I’m just starting to learn how to be autistic. But it is overwhelming sometimes. I thought learning about autism would make me feel less alone, but in some ways I have felt more alone.

I’m just starting… Just starting to try to find my place in the world. Please be patient. Please be kind. I don’t know where I’m going and I’m just starting a journey to a destination that I’m not even sure exists.