The 5 Greatest Decisions I Made as a Man With Autism
I’d say my life as someone with autism is amazing. However, if some things didn’t happen in my life, I might not be where I am today. I look back at my life and say, “That was a great decision I made and it still impacts my life today.” These are the five greatest decisions I’ve made as a man with autism.
1. Getting a job at 15.
I know 15 may be too young to work for many people with and without autism. However, I felt I was capable of doing some kind of work as a teenager, so I walked down to a Burger King and asked for an application. I took it home to fill it out. I had it back there the next day. I was awaiting nervously what the manager was going to say. I ended up hearing, “come for an interview.” I was nervous and excited about that. I went for the interview and got the job.
Working at Burger King helped me learn to interact with peers, money management, and got me some work experience for future jobs. It also taught me some maturity. Also, if I didn’t have the jobs I found after this one, I wouldn’t be moved out and have the things I’ve gotten later in my life.
2. Going to college.
I know not everybody with autism goes to college. It’s often one of the hardest things someone with autism has to face. Most people with a form of autism dream of going to college. I was lucky and blessed to get a college education. I learned more maturity in college and skills I needed to get a better job than warehousing and fast food. I felt at times that college didn’t do anything for me. However, I don’t think I would have gotten some of the jobs I’ve had if I didn’t go to college. I only went to a community college, but it was still better than no college at all. College isn’t for everyone, but it was for me.
3. Dating my college girlfriend.
Not everyone with autism goes on a date. I was lucky to be dating in college. My college girlfriend had a major impact on my life. Some people are meant to come into your life, no matter what. Whether they stay or not doesn’t matter. If I didn’t meet my college girlfriend, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She was the one who got me into liking Shania Twain. We were on a date at a Red Robin restaurant, she told me about Shania Twain, and the rest is history.
4. Going to Las Vegas to see Shania Twain.
I started dreaming of meeting Shania Twain after college. I figured since she returned to the stage in Vegas that she was going to tour again soon. However, my gut told me not to wait until then. I’d never been to Las Vegas before, and I asked my mom if she would go with me. She responded “if you pay for it.” I had the money, and that was the best $2000 I’ve spent in my entire life. On top of it, I heard lucky fans would be brought on stage during the shows. I was one of them! Getting on that stage to meet my favorite singer was priceless. If I waited for her to tour again, I wouldn’t have met Shania Twain.
5. Joining a Toastmasters International Club.
During 2014, the worst year of my life, I reached out to a website about how I can’t find another girlfriend. They responded not only with “stop looking,” but also advice on how to go about making friends. They mentioned Toastmasters International, a program to learn how to get better at public speaking and being a leader.
I decided to finally look into a Toastmasters club three years later, and joined with the goal of becoming a motivational speaker. I visited a club and enjoyed it. I went to another meeting after a psychiatric hospital visit and joined. I’ve done over seven speeches. I got four Best Speaker ribbons and many other achievements.
I built confidence that impacted things in my life outside of the club. I wanted to learn to dance, start up conversations with strangers out in the community, and sing karaoke without any fear. I made a lot of friends in the process and went on more dates too. My website was built while in the club, and I got my own business cards. I reached out to that site again telling them how much Toastmasters impacted my life and thanked them for their advice. They responded in a great way!
If I didn’t do these five things, I’m not certain where I’d be right now. I’m very lucky and blessed to be where I am. I look forward to the future and to seeing how these five decisions will impact the rest of my life!
This story originally appeared on Thought Catalog.
Getty image by iPopov.