The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Tom Petty said it best in his classic song, The Waiting:

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part”

Right you are Mr. Tom Petty. The waiting is the hardest part. We wait for everything and most of the time we don’t like to wait. About the only time when we like to wait is when we have to say goodbye to someone else. Saying goodbye turns into the classic scenario where we get caught in the 5-minute-long hug with someone because we don’t want to say goodbye.

Everything else though, not so much.

We are so obsessed with not wanting to wait, that we have developed call ahead service for almost everything these days, including the unbearable waiting tactic of standing in line at the DMV. You can put your name on a text message wait-list now before you even leave your house, so that you no longer have to suffer through the agony that is the mile-long, three-hour wait to get a new driver’s license.

If only the rest of life had a text ahead system. But, it doesn’t. In real life, you have to deal with the waiting head on.

As an Aspie, one of the biggest things that I struggle with is waiting. I like to have a set schedule and don’t handle spontaneous change very well. Being such a planner, I go through many parts of my life with a fine tooth comb, just to make sure I know exactly when and where things are happening. The most antagonizing part of anything for me is never when something is happening, it’s always the lead up to it, the waiting for it.

Being unemployed changes the pain of waiting to something different. Not knowing what is going to happen next isn’t frightening. What I’m afraid of is when things will happen. Unless I want to remain jobless forever, which I don’t, I know that one day, I will work again, but when exactly, I have no idea.

As scary as it is though, at times like this, I have a sense of confidence. I will work again and I will continue on the path of a working life. Why? Because of this one verse in the Bible: Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The key word in that passage as it relates to waiting…”future.” How do you get to the future exactly? You wait for it. If we weren’t made to have to wait for things, than waiting wouldn’t exist.

I hate waiting. I really, really, really, really hate waiting. But, thanks to my faith in God, a strong support system around me and coping skills that I’ve learned as an Aspie over many years, I have found ways to adapt to the waiting and use it to my advantage. In the end, waiting for something can actually be a lot more fun than rushing into it, because the feeling of great joy you get when something finally does happen, makes all the waiting worth it.

I’m not saying that you should wait for everything. If you have a car payment due or you need to buy groceries or feed your pet fish, obviously don’t wait. But, for many of life’s other simple pleasures, every so often, take time to wait.

Sometimes, when you least expect it, waiting can actually be fun.

Best,

-ZEZ

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All You Need Is Love: An Aspie Attempt At Dating

After posting my resume on my blog a few days ago and doing a grassroots campaign to get more publicity of this blog on social media, the desired outcome was decent. While I got more likes on my Facebook page and it seems as though more people are now following the blog, posting my resume didn’t necessarily give me the desired impact that I was hoping for. But, like anything, that kind of stuff takes time, so for now, I’ll table that and hope that one day soon, my resume gets noticed. Remember, #HireAnAspie, we can work too!

The self promotion of my resume and my blog aside, today I want to talk about something that I have struggled with for several years and still continuing working at… dating.

Yes, dating, the mysterious yet ever in-my-face thing that is in all it’s glory, a relationship between two people. As you may or may not know, I’m currently single. Also, I should tell you right now that in Facebook terms, my relationship status has read single for over 24 years. That’s right, not once have I been in a relationship, not even one of those cheesy two week relationships that you have in middle school. Nope, you should just call me Han because I am Solo.

Stupid puns and detail of my singleness aside, having Asperger Syndrome definitely plays a role in my lack of a girlfriend. For starters, I tend to have a hard time spinning a conversation long enough that it actually gets past the small talk stage. In college whenever I would approach a girl, the three questions I would always ask her would be: What’s your name? What’s your major? Where are you from?

At this point, the conversation might continue on for a minute or two longer depending on her answers to those questions, but most likely, the conversation would die off soon after the question about where she was from and it’s at that point that I would slowly back away. Yes, I would literally start to back up and turn around to find another group of people to converse with. Not the greatest tactics I’m sure, but as someone who is socially awkward most of the time when meeting new people, the back up and walk away, as I like to call it, was the fighter pilot ejector seat version of me bailing on a bad conversation.

Not all of my experiences have been bad. I’ve actually been on several dates, thanks to this little thing called online dating. Yep, I’ve done online dating. In fact, I have a one-month subscription to Match.com right at this very moment. Although I’ve been on and off Match about four or five times since I graduated college, each time, I’ve come away disliking my results and saying that I’ll never get back on Match again. But, just like how Eve was drawn to the apple in the Garden of Eden, I just keep going back.

I will say that I’ve been on some good dates as a result of Match and I’ve been on some not-so-good dates. Like clockwork, except for right now, my experience on Match has always followed the same pattern.

1. Sign up for Match and starting talking to a girl within a week of being on the site. 2. Girl and I start communicating at a rapid pace and start texting each other within a week of online communication. 3. Girl and I have a meet and greet. 4. While on date, I either talk too much or not enough. 5. I feel like the date went great and then I don’t hear from the girl for two or three days. 6. When I finally hear from the girl, she tells me that while I’m a great guy, I’m just not what she’s looking for.

Literally, those six steps happen EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

My life is like How I Met Your Mother and I’m always Ted. Like Ted, I’m always searching for that one “it” girl, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find her.

In a way, I think things always play out like this because on every date I go on, the girls always seem to be able to sense the overwhelming excitement level that I have. For some reason, while I try and always play it cool, I come off as the guy who acts like this is the first and only date I’ll ever go on in my life. Also, since I don’t reveal my Asperger’s, most of the girls think I’m just socially awkward for no reason.

The one time I did actually tell a girl on the first date that I have AS, is actually the only time I’ve ever gotten a second date. Oh and by the way, on the second date, she told me I should date someone with less experience. Thanks for your honesty lady, you have a nice day too.

Anyway, at this point in my life, I would be lying if I said that I’m not constantly thinking about trying to settle down and find the right girl for me. Many people say that I should date someone else who has AS, but the trouble is, I haven’t really met another girl yet that has it. That, and the fact that everyone else I’ve gone on dates with is Neurotypical, which is fine. As long as I’m attracted to the girl and I enjoy her company, I don’t care who I date. Well, I mean like anybody I have my ideal girl, but you get the idea.

While I know I can’t have the perfect girl, to me if there was such a thing, my perfect girl would be named Maggie and she would be a nurse. I’ve always loved the name Maggie, I don’t know why. And a nurse, well I think I’ve always been attracted to girls that are nurses because it’s their job to care for people, literally. That and they deal with a lot of interesting people, so my social quirks and occasional silliness would be nothing new.

If anyone out there happens to know a girl named Maggie who is single and is looking for a guy, you know where to find me. If this Maggie you know happens to be a nurse, I’ll just give you a million dollars right now for your greatness.

Look, I know that dating like everything else, takes time. I also know that dating is a two way street. Both parties need to like each other for the relationship to start. At this point though, I do get a little discouraged on occasion and wonder if I really will find a girl. I mean, odds are, at this point, the chances of me dating someone who hasn’t dated before also, are slim to none. I know that whoever I might date, will probably be coming into the relationship with more experience than I have. With that in mind, all I can really say is that whoever that first girlfriend may be, she better leave a good impression, because if we ever break up, she will have set the standard bar for relationship expectations after that. If though I marry the first girl I date, well that’s obviously fine as well.

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. One thing I do know though is that I have a lot of love and joy to share with a lucky girl out there. As I’ve said many times, my AS isn’t all of me, it’s only a small part of me. And that small part won’t stop me from continuing to search for a significant other who I one day hope to find.

I’d like to leave you with a quote by author Robert Fulghum.

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”
Robert Fulghum
One day, I too, hope to fall in mutual weirdness.
Best,
– ZEZ

HIRE AN ASPIE! WE CAN WORK, JUST LIKE YOU!

As most of my followers know by now, the cold truth about my current employment status is that there isn’t one. That’s right, I’m unemployed. At least by having my own place though, I have it slightly better than George Costanza, as illustrated in the clip below.

Unfortunately though, real life isn’t as easy as doing the opposite of what you normally do and then expecting amazing results. Real life, my friends, is a little bit more of a challenge. One of the biggest things that happens in real life, is employment.

I will never let AS completely define me. It’s not who I am, instead it’s just a small part of me. I’m still outgoing, funny, caring and well-educated, regardless of having AS. The one thing that I can’t ignore though, is what research and science says about employment and having ASD.

Take a look at the following link to a study done by the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry last fall.

http://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/new-studies-emphasize-lack-services-young-adults-autism

http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(13)00377-8/abstract

Basically what the study is saying, is that just over 50% of people with ASD have held paying jobs after they graduated high school.

Also, in the Autism Speaks article that I linked to above, take note of the following quote:

“In Postsecondary Employment Experiences Among Young Adults With an Autism Spectrum Disorder, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Shattuck’s team reports that young adults with autism spectrum disorders have worse employment outcomes in the first few years after high school than do peers who have other types of disabilities.”

Again, that’s not an enlightening thing to read.

As someone who has been through three jobs in less than two years after graduating college, I can attest to the lack of good employment for people with ASD.

I’m sorry that I’m on my soapbox and that this post is so long. I just really want people to be made aware of what I’m really up against so others can understand another one of the daily battles that I face as someone who has ASD. Oh and one more thing, below is my resume.

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That’s right, I’m putting my resume up on this blog. It’s got my phone number, email and my address. So in theory, if you wanted to start calling me at weird times of the night or randomly showing up at my door, now I’ve given you that ability. My hope though is that as my readers, you will see two things. 1. What a resume of someone with ASD looks like. And 2. Maybe, just maybe, you can pass it on to someone you know, that might be able to give me an opportunity to prove what I can do in the workplace.

Have a great end to your Thursday and please remember…HIRE AN ASPIE DARN IT!! WE ARE A VITAL PART OF THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE TOO!!!

One final note, Dan Aykroyd, yes, the actor, is an Aspie. If you don’t believe me, check out this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2521032/Dan-Aykroyd-I-Aspergers–symptoms-included-obsessed-ghosts.html

If one of The Blues Brothers could get hired, I certainly can too!

Best,

-ZEZ

Upcoming Live Google+ Hangout Chat About Aspergers!

Happy Wednesday to my followers! We have reached the halfway point of yet another week. I wanted to write a quick post letting people know about the upcoming Google+ Hangout that I will be having tomorrow at 1pm CST on The ZEZ Connection Google+ Page that you can find here: https://plus.google.com/110108361819794722986/posts

In the hangout, I will be talking about growing up with Asperger Syndrome and have a Q&A opportunity for people to ask questions. I hope you will join me for this informative session.

There’s No Place Like Home

Good Afternoon from…Kansas. Yes, the Sunflower State. As many of you now know, I’ve returned from Europe and I’m back in the States. The trip abroad was one of the neatest things I’ve ever experienced and it’s three weeks that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I’ll admit that being home is a little strange. Not having to take a train or bus everywhere and being surrounded by mostly my fellow Kansans is definitely unusual at first. Overall though, I am glad to be back home and am looking forward to the upcoming weeks and months as I continue farther down the road towards my goal of helping with Autism and Aspergers advocacy both here and internationally.

One final note about the trip though; a ranking of the cities that I visited.

1. London
2. Dublin/Belfast
3. Berlin
4. Rome
5. Paris

While I enjoyed all of cities that I visited, London and Dublin now hold a special place in my heart and I hope to one day soon return to the UK and everything great that I loved about it.

Tomorrow I’m back on the Autism advocacy trail and will be meeting with individuals from the KU Center for Autism Research and Training, to begin further discussions about my advocacy and awareness opportunities right here at home.

Until next time…

Best,

ZEZ

Last Day In Dublin

Good Afternoon from Dublin! It’s hard to believe that tomorrow, my trip is over and I will be heading back to the States and real life.

This morning I took the train to Howth, a small fishing village about 20 minutes outside of Dublin.

I had a nice lunch of seafood chowder at this little pub called Abbey Tavern and then after lunch, I climbed the hill in town to get a great view of the marina and coast below me.

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I also took a video while standing on the barrier between the harbor and the sea. Note the wind noise, it really was that windy!

Tonight I will be taking it easy and resting up before my flight back home tomorrow.

It’s been an amazing journey and I will have a final trip review once I return to the States.

Until next time…

Best,

-ZEZ

A Pint of Dublin

Good Evening from Dublin. I was going to post yesterday but didn’t do a whole lot so I just decided to wait until today. I will mention though that yesterday I met with a representative from the Middletown Autism Centre here in Ireland. Middletown deals with schools and outreach in both Northern Ireland and Ireland, so they cover a huge area.

Today I met with a representative from the Irish Autism Society and I also toured the Guinness Storehouse. The IAS is one of the oldest Autism societies here in Ireland, as they have been around for several decades.

The Guinness Storehouse came after my meeting with the IAS and it was pretty interesting. While you can’t tour the actual brewery, you can explore several floors of the Storehouse, a large museum/visitor center dedicated to the beer that is house in a seven story atrium that is shaped like a pint glass. The highlight of the experience is The Gravity Bar, a top floor room that has a 360 degree view of Dublin.

I am now back at the hostel watching Olympic coverage and making plans to head back to the States. Although my original trip was supposed to last until March, traveling isn’t free, so I’m coming back home this weekend. Aside from coming home to be financially smart, I also am starting to miss Cow Town.

I’m not looking forward to returning to the cold and snow, but it will be nice to be back to a routine again after spending several weeks living out of a backpack.

Like my post from a few days ago, the wifi here in the hostel is a little slow, so I will add photos from the Storehouse at a later time when I get some faster wifi.

Until next time…

Best,

ZEZ