Growing up, I always knew I was different. The struggle to figure out why was more so for my family than for myself. I was in my own little world. I had a few friends that came and went, but I was just as happy doing my own thing. Nothing could hurt me in my happy little bubble. While I could tell I was different, I didn’t care why.
It wasn’t until I reached my freshman year of high school that I was given my official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, aka high-functioning autism. My main autistic struggles are being in the social and academic world. High school for me was especially different from my peers’ experiences. I took longer to socially mature because of my autism, so I was labeled as different and didn’t have many friends. This was fine by me, as I preferred to be liked for myself rather than any superficial reason.
Although my awkwardness socially identified me as unpopular, I also believe my self-confidence contributed to why I was deemed different. Unlike many of my classmates, I didn’t feel the need to participate in acting shallow or vain. Never once did I want someone verify how “cool,” “attractive,” or “hot” I was. I’ve been comfortable in my own skin from a young age. I may have been behind my peers in maturing socially, but way ahead of them with overall maturity.
While everyone else around me was into shows such as CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, and Friday Night Lights, I was unashamed to enjoy cartoons such as Danny Phantom, Kim Possible, and Phineas and Ferb. As long as a show or movie tells a good story and has strong characters, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s animated or live action. Unless something is offensive or hurtful, a person should not be judged for what they like or don’t like.
During my senior year of high school, things began to change. I had to begin dealing with the real-life issue of college and what came after. Just as in my education before, I struggled. I was shy, awkward, and intimidated. I never knew what type of help I needed. After I had graduated and had time to catch my breath, I had come to realize that what really would’ve helped me was simply more time. Due to my program, I had been encouraged to constantly be taking more classes than I was comfortable with. I have a feeling that I had been given more time to concentrate on each class, I likely would’ve done better.
Although college pushed me out of my comfort zone, I still felt safe in my sheltered bubble. I had grown to understand that bad things did happen, but I was naive enough to believe I’d never be affected. However, I emerged from my protected world through the unexpected death of our family dog, to whom I had grown really attached. She was a constant companion and a best friend, no matter how attention-seeking she was. It was beyond difficult to see her go. The reality that life is impermanent set in as I realized bad things actually could impact me. This fermented my already strong belief that young people should enjoy their time being young without losing themselves to it. We will all be older soon enough.
Now, at this point in my life, what matters to me is finding a job I feel qualified for and achieving my goals. Even at 27 years old, I’m still into cartoons (especially the Star Wars ones). If I could find a way to get paid for blogging about pop culture from an autistic point of view, I would be living my dream. Until I am able to make that dream come true, I will be working odd jobs to pay the bills, and continuing to blog about pop culture for many rapidly growing fan sites. I’m hopeful these experiences will look good on my resume and better my chance of a blogging career.
Throughout my life, I’ve been a high-functioning autistic comfortable in her own skin. I’ve enjoyed the simple things in life and I’ve attempted to find my place in this chaotic world. I will continue to live unapologetically and have the confidence in myself to chase my dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem at times.
About the Author
Megan Rickards is a high functioning autistic with a Bachelor’s degree in Literature and Writing. Since graduating, she has been blogging for Future of the Force and managing her own blog site From an Autistic Point of View. In her free time, she has been looking for a professional blogging job while attempting to learn as much about the pop culture universe as she can. What she lacks in professional experience, she more than makes up for in talent and determination to get the job done. At the same time, she also enjoys working with as many autistic and pop culture communities as she can. Her dream is to one day be lucky enough to write for Star Wars Insider.