The following is an entry in this year’s TRN Essay Contest. Get the details on how YOU can enter here! Thanks to Benjanime for entering!
Life ain’t easy. However you maintained your years from childhood to becoming an adult, those simple words are the most accurate to anyone’s existence as history repeats itself. What are my plans for the future? what if I’m not ready for the big open world ahead of me? why don’t I feel comfortable around large crowds of people?
These were just a few of the questions running through my head as I hit puberty. But before I get into all that, I’d like to begin with how the spectrum affected my earlier years of growing up, how I made friends, how I dealt with my parents and siblings, and what my behavior led to during school.
Living in a culdesac area in a small trailer park throughout most of the 1990s made for a good, quiet area to make friends in and in my days of being around 4 to 8 years old I was pretty shy and not as talkative as I would later gain the courage to. In a way going to school was what gave me that build up in trying to socialize more, but at the same time I wasn’t ready to start a new year of it. I made friends and communicated, but whenever I progressed to a new semester/class and lost those friends, I had a heavyweight of feeling seperation anxiety of not being able to see them again.
As for my family life, my time with my eldest sibling being my sister had moved away after only a few years of being old enough to have any type of communication from her, and this is where my behavior problems started. I was the youngest of the siblings and I was a bit of a troublemaker around the house. I threw tantrums when I didn’t get my way, kept quiet during family dinners, and I took risks for doing things that would potentially get me grounded, so much so of this was done that my brother and sister didn’t spend much time around me because of it.
By the time I had reached third grade in school I had a habit of leaving little doodles on my classwork papers. These were minimal problems for my teachers then but became like unwanted graffiti on my papers as I moved up to 5th grade, so I stopped after a parent/teacher conference was the final straw. The reason behind it though was because of how sucked in I had become of drawing cartoons, as it was the beginning of a new hobby.
I was starting to feel more inclined to socialize with friends at school and even hanging with my older brother at every chance I could get, but because of my obsession withdrawing, I eventually had to start taking Ritalin just to focus on any lectures my teachers were giving me because I was daydreaming a lot. Once I started middle school though it wasn’t necessary anymore as I was maturing, and thankfully the introduction of Study Hall gave me more time to draw after I had caught up with my work.
So, as I moved forward to high school in the early 2000s, I was really expecting to have the same easygoing, memorable experience as my elementary and middle school years before it. I don’t want to say it was a big disappointment, but it just felt like reality was really about to hit me in the face. Bell breaks to prepare for the next class felt shorter, students were flocking to their next class and, my teachers just didn’t have that same bounce of personality that my earlier school teachers did, it felt like a shallow, albeit depressing time for me. I know my last few years were supposed to prepare me for the work world, I was just hoping I’d get more of a confident attitude from those around me as I made it so far with my education. I still had my family to do that, but it just didn’t feel like it was enough with just them.
With my graduation over and my family proud, I gained a bit of assurance after no longer being in the school environment. I didn’t feel closed in, nor was I feeling distanced from others. One last task was before me: what job should I pursue? well, with my stepdad having his own lawn service (and soon to be certified) I could not only support him but earn my own pay. It was thanks to that that I gained some confidence in looking for my first job, soon to work in janitorial at a Mexican grill restaurant. I wasn’t completely talkative with the customers, but the work environment and cheery coworkers helped me open up a little.
At this point in time, I’m still a bit socially awkward but I’ve managed to try and express myself when I feel it’s necessary.
Well, that about wraps this up, thank you for reading!