Learning What Ideas to Pursue or Leave Behind When You’re an Autistic Adult
As an autistic adult, I get LOTS of ideas. I love ideas. They’re so fun and full of energy. I feel inspired and want to dive in.
Once I’m knee deep in an idea though, I realize the amount of work and time it will take to see my idea to completion. I also learn how much the work impacts my energy level.
Sometimes I’m excited enough to keep going. For instance, when I learned I was autistic, I researched A LOT. It was time-consuming and maddening because I had to wade through so much unclear, inaccurate, or consuming information to find the few relatable gems that spoke to my experiences as a late identified autistic adult.
I began writing to try and make sense of it all, as well as to provide the clarity I was seeking. I’m a natural writer and I found it exciting and invigorating to write about my new special interest: autism. That excitement had me up early every morning to write another essay about autism.
I’ve now written over 150 essays about late-identified autism. I’ve also published a series that interviews over 25 late-identified autistics.
As I dove into the world of autism, I also shifted my work as an art therapist and mental health counselor. This took time, effort, and energy, but I was motivated by my excitement about autism. My private practice is now devoted to working with late-identified autistics and AuDHDers (yes, I also am ADHD).
These ideas have all been worth the effort. As I’ve been pursuing them, there have also been MANY MANY ideas that have come and gone. I’ve had to select which ideas best align with me and motivation.
Some ideas fell off because I simply cared more about autism than some other topic. Those were easier ideas to let fall off. I simply followed my enthusiasm.
Some ideas I didn’t continue because they didn’t match who I am. Those were far harder ideas to let fall off. It feels very different to choose not to do something just because it doesn’t align with who I am and how I operate.
I recently created and co-hosted a talk-show with my friend and fellow AuDHDer, Jen. We recorded 20 minute YouTube episodes about late identified autism. This topic clearly matched with my special interest and motivation.
What I didn’t realize was that the medium DID NOT match with who I am. I am naturally a writer. I love the time to process my thoughts in written form and work my way toward more clarity. I enjoy having the space to articulate something that I often find difficult to hash out verbally.
Recording the talk shows reminded me of how difficult I find conversations on topics I love. There is so much my brain is thinking at once, it’s hard to get it out in a clear, effective manner. Furthermore, given the show was a conversational format, I also had to navigate the dynamics of conversing (such as not interrupting too much or monopolizing the conversation).
All of these factors led to the show feeling difficult to me. I didn’t feel uplifted and energized in the same way I do from writing. It was very difficult for me to talk with my co-host about this. I didn’t want to let her down - especially when the only reason was because it didn’t FEEL good.
Luckily, my co-host is also a former therapist and current autistic coach, so she was incredibly understanding. She knows what it is like to have a mind full of ideas, and not have enough time, energy, and mental capacity to pursue all of them. She knows what it is like for something to not feel good, even though you want it to feel good. She knows it is not beneficial to force ourselves into something that doesn’t feel like a good fit.
And so, we both decided I would not continue as a co-host after season 1 (but hey, you can still see all 9 episodes from season 1 here).
This is the reality of being an autistic adult. We can’t always know how our ideas will impact us. However, we can be observant as we pursue ideas, and discern when to continue and when to walk away.
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