My first point: People often mistake me for a normal person because I have the appearance of one. What do you like to do during the summer? Go to Water Country or Busch Gardens? Hang out at the beach or pool? Fire up the grill? Well, those just aren't my thing, and many of you reading this probably already knew that...but many others who would consider themselves my friends don't, or know it but choose not to apply that knowledge. I've said for a while that it bugs me when people try to shove activities down my throat they know good and well I don't like. More than one so-called friend attempted to teach me how to throw a football; did they seriously think I cared? If someone who obviously doesn't know me--a visitor at church, a random person at a garage sale, etc.--mentions sports to me, that's a different story; how would they know that I prefer Nickelodeon to the NFL? Still, too many times, it's people who had to know better...and, if I listed them, you'd be surprised exactly who those people were.
My second point: My difference has nothing to do with my condition. I'm taking a risk by saying this, because I don't really like to talk about it...but, many of you know of my condition, and have for a while. However, I'd say that, by now, I've actually recovered; though I still have some residual bad habits from it, you could find those in any number of others without it. I've known more than one adult sans any "condition" who talked out loud to himself or herself, and who hasn't known someone with poor handwriting? You may be one of those people yourself! As for my oft-discussed obsession (or addiction, or fixation, or whatever you want to call it), while I have a passion for family-friendly and Christian entertainment, not only is that a broader topic than any of my big things in the past--in fact, it's much like pretty much all of them put together--but, it's much milder than it was back in the day. If you knew me back then, you'd have to agree. Truth be told, when I've hung out with other people with my condition or similar ones, we have nothing in common; they couldn't care less about Lizzie McGuire or dc Talk or garage sales or Mork & Mindy or any of the other things that make me...well, me. That's probably because they weren't raised with the value of media discernment, as I was. So, even among people who are supposed to be just like me, I'm still different. It reminds me of the infamous Tigger quotation: "But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is that I'm the only one!"
My third point: Sometimes, people won't accept disagreement with their opinions about what I should do. Many of my teachers, especially the special ed ones, had an agenda about me they were pushing big time. One wanted me to go to a magnet school; another wanted me to go to Busch Gardens; and, more than one wanted me to get my driver's license. These instructors were so pushy, it started to foster feelings of disrespect in me; couldn't they just let me and my mom make our own decisions? More recently, just look at this quotation from a message from a former friend:
But unless there is another medical concern I don’t know about, why haven’t you learned to drive? Even if you take the bus back and forth to work, you should learn to drive in case of an emergency. [...] Jerry, I truly believe you have the potential to hold down a job, live on your own, and have a happy, full life with friends and, God willing, a wife/family. I know that you have the rocky path of Asperger’s to deal with, but I think that if you are given the right guidance, you can overcome the obstacles in your way. It may take longer for you to reach, but that goal is attainable for you.Not long after reading those words, even though my friendship with the individual who wrote them went kaput, I started thinking: Why can't I get my driver's license? So, I studied, got my permit...and then got hit with one roadblock after another. After my dad had to take an emergency flight to Houston because of his brother's death right after agreeing to give me lessons, I knew that it was a providential hindrance, and I'm not one to fool with the will of God. Looking back at those words, it's hard to disagree with something worded that sweetly, and I can see why she got mad when I disagreed with her...but, that doesn't mean her words, regardless of the tone, weren't pure poppycock. I'm even more sure that all that was a bunch of nonsense than I was five years ago, when it all happened. Like many people, she just didn't understand that I was different.
My final point: Just because I'm different doesn't mean that I'm better than anyone else! It's tough being different, because people get the idea that I think I'm better than everyone else because I'm the only one who knows about something, or whatever. If you're a Christian--and maybe even if you aren't--you have probably heard the verse from Psalms quoted where David says he is "fearfully and wonderfully made". Yes, that applies to me...but it applies to all of you as well. We are all divinely created individuals, and Jesus loves and died for all of us. Even if you're not a fellow believer, you may know the words of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal..." It goes on from there, but, that's enough to make my point. I may be different, but that does not make me superior to anyone else.