Embracing My Journey: Navigating High School and College with Autism
If I could write a letter to my younger self or those on the spectrum in middle school, I would write something like this.
Dear Younger Me (Or Those NeuroDivergent Like Me Still Trying to Figure your label out):
As I reflect upon my journey from high school to college as someone with autism, I'm reminded of all the challenges, triumphs, and growth I've experienced along the way. If I could offer you one piece of advice, it would be to hold onto hope and remember that your journey is unique, and your experiences will shape you into a stronger and more resilient individual.
High school, with its dreams of friendship and belonging, often did not live up to my expectations. The friendships I hoped for seemed to slip through my fingers like sand, and the betrayal I experienced from someone I thought was my best friend cut deep. The hurt and isolation I felt during those times were almost unbearable. I questioned why these things were happening to me, and like you, I wanted to belong so badly.
As I moved on to college, I brought my longing for connection with me. I discovered that the journey to finding genuine friendships and self-acceptance is a process, and it doesn't always unfold the way we anticipate. It took time, trial, and error for me to realize that I needed to accept myself first before expecting others to accept me.
One of the key turning points was finding a true friend who not only understood my challenges but also embraced me for who I was. She became my anchor during a time when I was struggling, and she taught me that real friendships are built on acceptance and mutual respect. It was through her support that I found the courage to become more involved on campus and open up about my autism journey.
You'll face ups and downs, like the rollercoaster of roommates and the challenges of relationships. But remember, these experiences will be your teachers, helping you refine your understanding of yourself and others. It's okay to make mistakes and learn from them. You'll find that true friends will stand by you, even when things get tough.
As I embarked on my college journey, I stumbled into unexpected opportunities that allowed me to embrace my unique talents and passions. From being involved in clubs to advocating for autism awareness, I found a sense of purpose that fueled my growth. It's in these moments of passion and connection that you'll find the most authentic versions of yourself.
The road to self-acceptance wasn't without its hurdles. I struggled with blaming my Asperger's for my challenges and even questioned why I was made this way. Yet, through friendships, faith, and support, I came to realize that my label didn't define me; it was just a part of who I am. Embracing my label and sharing my story became empowering, inspiring others to embrace their own uniqueness.
Your journey may take twists and turns, but each experience will contribute to your growth and understanding. As I close this letter, remember that your future is bright, and your potential is limitless. Embrace your journey, learn from every experience, and above all, never stop believing in yourself.
With warm regards,
Sydney Holmes, MA
The Audio Book is now available at:
Print book and ebook scheduled for December of 2023!
This letter/blog is based on the chapters Sydney has written for the Holmes’ upcoming book, Embracing the Autism Spectrum: Finding Hope and Joy Navigating the NeuroDiverse Family Journey. Coming Fall of 2023!
Sydney is part of a family podcast October 2, 2023. https://www.mentalhealthnewsradionetwork.com/our-shows/neurodiverse-christian-couples/