2019 has had lots of highlights for me. It’s something easy to forget until I scroll through my photos on my phone and see “oh yeah, I was with these friends in these cities doing these things, and at these concerts and these events, and wow this really is a lot”. I also have finally been blessed with a stable year-round job which is going well so far. I feel incredibly blessed for that. The major frustrating story of the year, however, has been repeatedly trying to move to a different location from where I am, and being unsuccessful at that.
One of these failures I have alluded to in a past entry. In June, I found a fellow autistic roommate who I thought was a match, and then we had lunch a couple times and it became clear we had very different visions and would have problems with conflict when we moved to the new place, so I called it off. But a lot of it has been due to simple familial indecision. My sister has been wanting to break up with her partner and move out with me into a separate house. We have made three separate attempts to do this, once in February and twice this fall. And all three times have failed due to my sister backing out and changing her mind at the last minute.
As you may have seen in my October blog entry, I was really hopeful about this latest time. It fell apart because we ran into some difficulties with our application, and my sister decided this was reason enough to try moving back in with her partner one more time. Whatever I may think of those decisions, I have to focus on my own life and how it affects me and not get too wrapped up in what my sister is doing, which is something my dad has emphasized to me over and over this year. I’ve fallen into a trap a bit this year, although I’m not sure if it’s avoidable or not. The trap is that when you’re about to make a big transition in your life, it’s hard to commit to anything. While we were going to stay in Chattanooga, my sister and I were going to move a significant distance away. “Eh, I won’t worry about exercising now; we’ll live right next to a gym when we move”. “Eh, I won’t get too invested in what’s going on at church right now, because I may have to move far away from it soon anyway”. These are traps that make it hard to live life perpetually in limbo, which it feels like I have been in since February. But now that it’s clear that moving out with my sister is not a reality I am going to be living anytime soon, I need to focus on my own goals. Because I still want to move. And now things may even work out more positively, because I may have more choice over where I can go.
A well-documented issue in modern society has been children staying in their parents’ or family members’ houses much longer than ever before due to financial instability. While this has hit society hard in general, it has especially hit new autistic adults, because in addition to the financial instability that everyone else has, we also have issues with independent living that make it easier just to stay put. Over the past several years, I’ve become adept at seeking out other people with autism both in person and in online communities and I’ve noticed a general pattern: none of us are happy with these situations, be it the parents or the adults with autism themselves. The parents and autistic adults become exasperated with each other, and it drives families apart. It becomes very easy for us to blame our families for our problems. In reality, a lot of us have more control over our own situations than we are giving ourselves credit for, and it is up to us to use it appropriately.
We all have our own gifts. If you’re good at singing, join a singing group. If you’re good at writing, write a book, or join an online writing community. Just do something to improve your connections with the world and with others, and you never know: you might find a friend, you might find a roommate, you might find a job, and you might not. But you have a 0% chance of improving your situation if you don’t at least try to do something for yourself, so it is automatically better to try. And in my case, right after getting the crushing bad news that, yet again, my sister had changed her mind, I had an opportunity to tap into my gifts, because literally the next day, I had an interview with my current online job that I ended up getting. I knew my best shot to improve my situation was do well with the interview and get the job. I was skeptical, because I’d failed to get jobs after dozens of prior interviews. However, I was able to learn from my prior experience and reverse that result this time. And now I will be in a better position moving forward to hopefully get where I want to be.
So, where do I want to go? I don’t know exactly yet. I just started this job Monday, so I want to get adjusted and get in a routine with it first. I know I want to stay in Chattanooga, because I’ve made friends and connections here and find it to be a good location to travel from. And now I don’t even necessarily have to move into an apartment pre-ordained by my sister if I don’t want to. But I do think that I shouldn’t stall too much, and that the time is soon. Wish me well as I figure it out. You too have more control than you think you do. Sometimes, if you focus on what you can do to better your own situation, you can do a lot more than you give yourself credit for. It doesn’t always have to matter what everybody else does.