In the summer of 2010, about a year after I became aware of my official status on the autism spectrum (though nearly 2 years after it was first suggested to me), I stumbled across a special needs parenting blog. I was hooked. I read it from beginning to current, and still follow it today. Then I followed their links and discovered the world of special needs blogging. Soon after, I discovered the blogs of autistic adults. I read everything. Voraciously. Absorbed everything I could possibly absorb. I started adding blogs to google reader when I realized I couldn’t continue to remember to check all 20+ blogs I was interested in manually. I began lurking and on occasion commenting. And then, in December of 2011, I finally decided to make the transition from lurker to blogger. I toyed with a number of different names for the blog. The original name was “suelement e”, which means “just e” in French. I actually even own the wordpress site for it, though nothing has ever been posted there. I have a confession to make, and that’s that I decided to make a blog before I had anything to write. So when I sat down to write my very first piece, the piece that became my namesake and identity online, it’s original title was “Seulement E: an introduction to a girl named E”. When I commented on blogs at all, I had used the identity of “E”, so it wasn’t completely new. And I decided that I liked being “E”.
Then I started writing, and the glances just sort of materialized. Before I knew it, I had written something that was so uniquely me, that I knew, just knew, that I had inadvertently stumbled upon a perfect blog title, and identity for myself online: The Third Glance. I so rarely produce something that is so well written and thought out, that I was shocked that it came that easily. So I created another wordpress site, and I made myself a gmail account for the blog, and posted the essay, knowing that I was incredibly happy and proud of the first piece of writing I would put up. Then I sent the link to the one person in the blogosphere that I’d had email contact with, and she responded so positively, that I buoyed me and told me that I could actually do this. Then I did something crazy: I posted the essay on my personal facebook page as a note. I made it a private note that only those who were tagged could see, and I tagged some of the people in my life who I thought would either understand the note completely, and know that they were the people who had taken the third glance. I also tagged a few people who had made my early life in college hell, because they were actively taking the 2nd glance and trying to force those who had moved past that to revert. The people who bullied me, but who I have no contact with anymore, because I decided it wasn’t worth any effort, despite having mutual friends. And they, too, I like to think, stopped to at least think about what I had written. Some of them even commented, saying thank you. And I like to think I made a difference in those people’s lives, and the lives of those they interact with now. And only two of the people who I tagged (that I know of) have ever found this blog – both of them are wonderful people whom I respect and admire, and of the first category of people I tagged, not the second. Funny, since I called my note “The Third Glance” – any tiny little google search would have found me.
And thus, a tiny autism blog was born, and “E (The Third Glance)” began to communicate to the world. The next day, I flew to my Aunt’s house (to meet the rest of my family), and spent a week there during “Christmas”. I continued to write, but nothing was coming close to that first post. So I decided I’d go to holiday theme, and thus my “An Autistic’s Holiday Survival Guide” posts were born. I wrote “Words” on the plane flight back home – my laptop didn’t have much battery, so I wrote the whole thing out on paper in a little notebook first, before typing it up. For someone with bad handwriting and difficulty writing, that was a feat in and of itself. And I had my second powerful post, and I thought to myself “I can do this”. So I did.
I kept writing. Not a lot, for I’m not nearly as prolific as some other bloggers I admire. But I enjoyed it. And I produced a bunch of posts that people have really enjoyed and responded to. I also began to really meet and interact with other bloggers. I followed nearly 3 times more blogs in my google reader. I made many more connections. I even helped to conceive and run the Autism Positivity Flash Blog event this past April 30th, as webmaster, and also contributor. People were actually reading my blog. Not a lot of people, but more than 10, which was so amazing to me. People were interested in reading what I had to say? It’s an intensely amazing feeling, when I get a comment or a like or an email saying that someone has read and been touched by something I’ve written. I’ve met and collaborated with some incredibly inspiring people. I’ve learned an enormous amount about myself, because I’ve given thought to deconstructing my everyday actions, thoughts and feelings. I’ve become more confident in my autistic identity, and I’ve even gained more abilities to function – I can learn from my mistakes and my triumphs, but only if I recognize them first, after all. I’ve even, dare I actually say it, helped people to better understand themselves and their children. And that is the best thing I could possibly hope for. I know it sounds corny, but if my writing helps just one person reach clarity and understanding, and helps them to live a better life for themselves or their children or friends or acquaintances, then I feel like I’ve done something good. It’s been an amazing adventure, and I hope to continue it for a long time.
When I started blogging, I didn’t know what direction I was going to take the blog. I didn’t have any goals or any message I wanted to spread. I just wanted to share myself, in uncensored honesty. I wanted to give people a chance to understand what goes on in my mind, because so little of it is actually communicated directly. Unlike many of the other autistic bloggers in my demographic (20’s, student or of that general age/a little older), I am not focused on rhetoric of social justice and disability rights. I didn’t have an agenda for self-advocacy or politics. (I’m not saying this is unimportant, just that for me, it is not at the front of my mind.) I didn’t want to prove anything or press anything on people. I just wanted an outlet. Today, as I sit here writing this 100th blog post, I can say that this hasn’t changed much. If anything, my goal is still to record how my brain works. It’s to shed light on why I do the things I do. Whether that applies to other people or not is secondary, though it is really amazing when something that “clicks” for me also “clicks” for someone else, and helps them to live a happier or better life. I have always been a “lead by example” kind of a person, and life my life by the so-called “Golden Rule” – treat others the way you want to be treated. So I suppose, my mission is to spread acceptance, tolerance, kindness, and happiness. I’ve written about this before, and I will continue to do so in the future. The world can always use a little more compassion.
So, on this 100 Posts Day, as I pause and reflect on this blog, I would love to hear more about all of you, my wonderful readers. You are the reason I’m not writing into the giant void that is the Black Hole of the Internet. You are the reason I am able to help spread understanding of and compassion for autistic people. And ultimately, what I write means nothing to anyone else, unless it is read. So, I’m making a request. In honor of this 100th post, please leave a comment for me, telling me how and when you discovered this blog, why you read it, and if you have any connection with autism. You can post anonymously if you want (just make up a “name” and “email”) – the reason I picked wordpress over blogger has a lot to do with the comment system for people who wish to remain anonymous, but have an identity if you so chose. I would love to know more about you, my readers. For me, the most interesting, compelling thing about being a member of the blogosphere, is the personal stories that people share. I love to know about how other people think, reflect, and respond. It helps me understand how other humans work, and it also opens my eyes to all the other life experiences that people have.
So please, lurkers and regular commenters alike, come on out and leave a comment. If you’ve only read one or two posts, or if gone through my entire archive, (or anywhere in between), I’d love to hear from you. If you don’t want to leave a comment, please consider sending me an email. And thank you, all of you, for taking that Third Glance, and sharing this great adventure with me. It’s only the beginning.
–E (The Third Glance)
p.s. I have linked to a number of posts in this post, however they are by no means all my favorites or even many of them – please, if you haven’t already, go check out my “posts I’m most proud of” page – I’ve listed some more “highlights” there, and while it’s not updated all the time, I try to update it every few months. Though if you just read two other things while you’re here, The Third Glance and Words are my recommendations.