My Autistic Experience – My Greatest Challenge Yet

Looks like I am back… at least for a little while anyway.

I’m not much into the whole trigger warning thing, and I suppose that this doesn’t quite count, but I will warn you that this post consists of me ranting. I am in the need to vent my frustration, and I think that the subject of my rant may be of interest to people. That said, it will still be written in my usual style of writing, so if you have read any of my past work, you should know what to expect.

There are many things that keep me busy these days. The main one is graduate studies. As I have said I very much enjoy conducting research and learning new things. There are some things I dislike about being a graduate student, but more often than not I enjoy myself.

I have another responsibility that I very much dislike. I don’t want to go too much into detail regarding what the responsibility is – as doing so would make it obvious as to who I am – but I will share that it is connected to school politics.

Politics in general is something that fascinates me and disgusts me at the same time, and it has a lot to do with those involved in politics. On one hand, politicians are the people in charge of their countries. They are the people involved in the sort of discourse that leads to national change. Often I like to imagine the kinds of things I could accomplish if I were Prime Minister of Canada – or as an even more interesting yet futile possibility, the President of the United States.

What I dislike about politics is the nature and training of the politician, and this is the main factor that occasionally motivates me into political action. The way I see it, politicians ought to be the best of us, equipped with the knowledge, experience, and temperament necessary to make major decisions for the benefit of everyone within their nation. They should understand that being a leader is a responsibility, but it seems to me that many politicians are interested in the power that comes with their position and not the responsibility.

Others lack the knowledge to make good decisions. I don’t know what politicians learn when they go to university, but I don’t suspect they learn structural engineering that might help them make decisions involved in building and updating infrastructure. I don’t suspect they learn economics that would help them make relevant decisions in that field. Certainly very few study science that would allow them to make informed decisions involving our scientific understanding of the world.

I dabble in politics out of what I feel is a necessity. There is the saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” and it is the way I feel about many things, including politics. I see my experience as a student politician as potential practice should I decide that my involvement is necessary.

So far I have learned two things in my experience with student politics.

  1. I don’t like politics.
  2. I would do better at it if I could devote a job’s worth of time to it.

So for one, I don’t like it. Politics is a chore that does not suit my natural skill set, and there is always some new frustration or a new surprise that must be dealt with.

The difference in framing comes from the tools at my disposal. Graduate studies is also filled with surprises that must be overcome, but the tools I have at my disposal are suited to the task –  intellectual tools such as appropriate knowledge and quick wit. The tools of politics are of a social nature. Many of the tasks that require my attention must be accomplished by someone else, and so I must spend time making sure they are doing what I need them to do.

I am behind schedule regarding some of my duties. This will affect my ability to accomplish associated duties in a timely manner. When I think about this, I feel frustrated and powerless, but at the same time I did not concern myself with these duties over reading week. I will now have to deal with these duties with that much less time available to get everything done.

Which brings me to my second point. If I had a job’s worth of time to focus on political duties, I would do better. That is not to say that I would like it, only that I would do a better job. The thought feels like an excuse, and yet it is still the truth. I have duties related to graduate studies that are more interesting and better suit my skills. I also have interests and hobbies that I will make time for at the sacrifice of things I would rather not do.

But of course I will keep going. There are many times that I feel like I am being lazy, and this is one of those times. Yet, I’m sure if I talked to someone about my ambitions and about the work I put into accomplishing them, they might tell me that I am not lazy. I just have high standards for myself and others. I hope that I can live up to my standards, and I hope that others will decide to push themselves harder to accomplish their ambitions.

I have thus far failed to meet the standard I have set for myself, and in doing so I have realized just how strict it is. That will not stop me from trying. I can’t allow this moment of difficulty to keep me from trying the best that I can.

I know that the phrase “You are enough” is quite popular. I understand the appeal, and while I suppose it would make for a happier existence if I were to follow this line of thinking, I simply cannot. This way of thinking draws a dangerous line between self-acceptance and stagnation. Self-acceptance is great, but I do not accept stagnation. If everyone is content with the way things are, nothing will get done.

And so I keep going, because someone must.

I don’t know how much this has to do with autism, but maybe a little bit with mental health. Hopefully you find this interesting. It’s the only thing I can think of that I am inspired to write about at the moment.

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15 thoughts on “My Autistic Experience – My Greatest Challenge Yet

  1. Student politics is a thankless job. I did my share while at Seneca and have enough for now. But you are right, someone has to do that t

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    • That is true, but that has yet to really bother me. It’s mostly the dependence I have on other people that bothers me. It’s hard to get anything done when I have to depend on someone else to do it. The tasks are too big to do myself, but too small to really matter in the grand scheme of things. I don’t have the time to get everything done, but even if I did, there are just some things that I don’t have the power or skill to do (at least by myself anyway). I can pass duties onto others, but if they aren’t prioritizing the tasks I give them, I can’t necessarily expect them to be done in a reasonable amount of time.

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  2. Thanks for doing it. Will the uoit students be better off if the SA splits into two separate unions?
    I don’t mean to turn your post into the SA discussion, but you seem like somebody I can trust on this.

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    • This is not an easy question to answer. I claim no expert wisdom on the subject, but I will do my best.

      First of all, it is no longer a question of if there will be a split. The students of Durham have already voted to split. The election for executive roles in the new SA is underway.
      In fact, as far as I understand it, something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. The higher ups of Durham have been itching to separate from UOIT for some time.
      Edit: I have been made to understand that the split is to be determined by vote during the upcoming presidential vote. My statement in the above paragraph is therefore incorrect, but it will not surprise me if the split does occur.

      As for whether UOIT students will be better off, I am open-mindedly pessimistic (think of it like cautiously optimistic, with a pessimistic slant). Ultimately I think it will depend on the people who get elected and how much power they have.

      I had the chance to see the candidates during the candidate forum that occurred Thursday, March 16th. I find it hard to muster any enthusiasm or optimism towards any of them. I don’t know any of them and I am not inclined to take them at their word.

      Best case scenario, they are like me in some way or another – running their campaign out of some sense of responsibility, that someone has to do it and it might as well be them. Even so, such a person would ultimately find themselves lacking in the power to accomplish anything serious.

      Worst case, they will cause all of the same problems and trust issues as the previous SA – rather, if we’re really talking worst case, they might be even worse than that. I cannot know for certain how they will act with power in their hands, but I remain pessimistic because they are all human. Humans are flawed beings, and power over others is vulnerable to corruption.

      I do my best to avoid the corrupting influence of power by remembering the responsibility that comes with it, by reminding myself that I am not taking on a position of leadership because I want to. I do it because I don’t know anyone besides myself who I trust with power. I do it because someone has to do it and at least I can trust myself to do it right. If I do it wrong, I can take responsibility for it and I can understand the limits of the power I hold, or the way that my own personal flaws make it such that I cannot live up to the standard I set.

      I do not claim perfection. I am as vulnerable to the corrupting influence of power as anyone, but I like to hope that my knowledge of this serves as a slight buffer. I am as flawed as anyone, but at least I know my flaws. I trust myself because I know myself better than I could possibly know anyone else. I don’t understand what motivates the people who are running, and I have two reasons that I did not ask them at the forum.
      1. There wasn’t enough time.
      2. I know what they will tell me, but that doesn’t mean I would believe it coming out of their mouth.

      I don’t mean to denigrate the candidates. In fact, I respect their willingness to take charge of the SA in such a turbulent time. I only mean to say that I am giving them the same amount of trust that I would give to any politician running for office – that being none. If I were running, I would expect to be treated the same way.

      I remain open to having my mind changed, though. I don’t think it will happen until the election is over and I get to see what the winners do with their newfound responsibility.

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