Life so far: growing up, autism, and 100 blog posts!

Years ago, I often thought about starting a blog. With my big dreams of becoming an author, it sounded like the sort of thing that all the high-flying writers are doing. Of course, it was just a crazy idea I had. Nothing serious. Right?

On receiving Blogging for Dummies for Christmas, I thought I’d at least show my appreciation by doing a quick summary of my world as a trial blog post. Now, four years and 99 posts later, my blog has definitely stood the test of time. It’s my way of reaching out, entertaining, and making my mark.

And this is my 100th post! So I thought I’d offer a much bigger summary of my life up until now.

Starting with Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday 17th March 1993 at 1.13pm. My parents joke about how typical it was of me to come out at lunchtime. To which I say, how many people do YOU know who were born in the middle of the day, week, month, and academic year, on their due date?

People sometimes ask me what I remember about Taiwan. Kind of awkward because my earliest memories include me and my (British) mum hiding from my (Taiwanese) dad after they had been fighting. But hey, I also remember playing with our pets, walking through mountain scenery, and my 4th birthday party. It wasn’t all bad!

Just after said birthday, my pregnant mother and I hastily headed my grandparents’ way – Cam, Gloucestershire. My sister was born. I started school, and was happily oblivious to my teachers telling Mum how weird I was and blaming it on bad parenting. Then we found a council flat.

A year later, while we were on holiday, my now-stepdad made his debut. From then on, he kept turning up on our doorstep. And we on his. This went on for about three years, until he and Mum married, and we invaded his house for good. Did I mention what a cute bridesmaid I was?

Now in Loughborough, I ended up at a school that was actually competent, and hey presto, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My response to the news? “Oh…can I have a piece of cheese?”

Secondary school pulled my head out of the clouds with a jolt. It was a scary world of social hierarchies, sport, and teachers with varying levels of empathy. I struggled with friendships. I struggled in classes. Most of all, I struggled to accept that autism was nothing to be ashamed of.

But gradually, I got involved with various social groups at church, and I finally started to make friends and open up about my difficulties. Meanwhile, I was studying animal care at Brooksby College. It comprised manhandling animals of every size and species, essays, poo, and overnight lambing. Pretty grim, but I passed with straight distinctions!

Because I wasn’t ready for uni afterwards, I did a couple of years of home study, and realised that my heart was in becoming an author, not a vet nurse. The second year proved eventful when my Grannie died of cancer, and I still regret not visiting more. But it was also the year I started at De Montfort University, studying Creative Writing and Journalism. It was challenging, and falling out with my friend when we tried living together was hard. That said, I learned more about writing than I ever had before, and I don’t regret it for a second.

And now, here I am, coming to the end of my Christian bookshop internship. It’s been a great year, with great people, and I can’t help wishing I had more time left. But few things in life are permanent, and as I reflect on my significant life events, I do wonder what the next one will be.

 

 

An impossible task?

After a good, stressful, productive, or just a little crazy, three years, I have recently finished uni for good. I was never going to be a huge fan of that perfectly reasonable question “So, what are you going to do now?”. Now I may be allergic to it. Including when the person asking is myself. Symptoms: high heart rate, nervous twitch, sweat breakout. To save the breath of anyone asking, I wish I knew.

Besides applying for part-time jobs, worrying about the future and playing Sims 3, I have been working on a little something to get me thinking about my goals for my life, for this summer, for this week, whatever. Voilà, one vision board!

board

And it’s so simple, yet fun, to decorate. Lists, mindmaps, stickers, favourite song lyrics, and a good dose of motivational quotes. Starting with this gem from a childhood book of mine*:

“The way to deal with an impossible task is to break it down into a number of merely very difficult tasks, and break each one of them into a group of horribly hard tasks, and each one of them into tricky jobs…” – Terry Pratchett, Truckers – p153.

Straightforward, yet sums up my plans for the future in just one sentence. Become a well known, if not famous, author? Impossible. Start a YouTube channel and make videos about living with Asperger’s? Impossible. Find a place of my own? Go travelling? Start a training school for Guide Cats for the Autistic? So what if the last one actually is impossible in my lifetime. You get the picture.

Half the trick is knowing the answers to the following questions. What do you want to achieve? How do you work best? What drives you? Simple, easily asked questions. Bordering on clichéd territory and yet could impact our view on our life if we really gave them some proper thought. Let’s break it down. What sort of things inspire you? Music, deep conversations with friends, correcting injustice, getting closer to achieving my goals, in my case.

Think about that thing in life you really want to do. Does it motivate you? Worry you? We’ve already ascertained becoming an author, for example, is impossible. Right? But brainstorming ideas for fiction or non fiction material isn’t impossible. Writing short pieces of prose isn’t impossible. Creating a detailed, cohesive synopsis? Tricky, but doable. Researching publishers with requirements that fit your agenda, then editing over and over until someone accepts your work?

Just be persistent. Some things are impossible. But unless your goals include flying, immortality, mass destruction, or turning everything into chocolate, don’t make them so by not even trying. Note to self.

 

Work experience: The Derby Telegraph

Before I begin, I would like to apologise for two things. One, for not getting round to doing this post right after said work experience took place – Freshers Week, as it happened. I have been slowly getting to grips with living independently, having coursework once again and the fact that our washing machine probably hates me. Two, for the huge spider picture which might, assuming the internet will co-operate, be the first thing any readers of this post will see…

What have spiders got to do with work experience? Don’t forget this is Journalism work experience we’re talking about here. I had been advised by my tutor to read the newspaper before working for it – if you haven’t done your research before hand, you might as well pack your bags. So I did my research, and one of the stories I found was about how spiders are soon to be invading our homes while increasing in size and number. I had also been told that if you arrive with a story idea on your first day, you could impress your employers no end. In desperation, I racked my brains for an article idea, and eventually settled for a follow up on the spider article: How to keep spiders out of your home. http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Scared-spiders-s-house/story-22962222-detail/story.html 10687038_844698658883010_3441144676856458668_n

Now I’d like to say that I had complete confidence in my new and radical idea for an article and that it wasn’t just a desperate last resort to do something vaguely clever. Being (I like to think) a very truthful person, I probably won’t. On the contrary, however, the article not only impressed the people I was working with, it dramatically increased the Derby Telegraph’s online readership. Get in!

I did learn the hard way though, that as a writer not everyone will be impressed by your work, or even remotely respectful. I couldn’t help but be offended by some stupid comment saying, among other things, that I need to “get some help for that phobia” – I was only doing my job, I don’t even kill spiders myself! Luckily, I live with a housemate who thinks that responding to rude comments online is pointless and who reminded me that I normally think the same.

The main difference between working with the Derby Telegraph and the Nottingham Post is that in Derby, they set me easier tasks, and were then way more easily impressed whenever I got to the end of yet another article. I had thought that they would be stricter, what with the firm work experience guidelines they emailed me previously. I didn’t once have to go and badger any hapless passers-by in some remote corner of the county, however. I simply wrote about whatever they wanted and was thoroughly praised for completing each task. Before I knew it, not only did I have five more articles published – four of which went on the website – I was also asked to come back, so agreed that I would every Wednesday.

Whilst I don’t think this post is quite as entertaining as certain previous posts, it does allow me to give a shoutout to the Derby Telegraph for publishing my writing – I’ve been told that there may be more of my work to come in the paper, maybe even including one with my photo in it! Meanwhile if you’re looking for a more intellectual read, have a browse through these following articles of mine. Want to know what a cross between a dachshund and a Chihuahua is? Ever seen a poodle cat? Know the secrets of Iphone headphones? Hoping to take your family on as many Halloween themed half term activities as possible? Read on… http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Healthy-hybrids-designer-dogs-know-dalmadoodle/story-22966750-detail/story.html
http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Fashionable-felines-man-moggies-heard-cat-breeds/story-22980925-detail/story.html
http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/iPhone-headphone-secrets-95-owners-v-know/story-23005058-detail/story.html#0RphhqQsyvEHGgov.01
http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/October-half-term-holiday-Derbyshire-things/story-23033828-detail/story.html#HBHGOxD19xmoumx3.01