Two years ago today, I made a decision that changed my life. I was just finishing up my first term in graduate school, about to spend 2 weeks with my very dysfunctional family, and still coming to terms with the fact that I was actually autisitc, a fact that I had stumbled across obsessively about three years prior. I hadn’t really told many people I was autistic. I’d told a few people form whom the information was relevant, but for the most part, I kept my neurology to myself. I was lonely and just trying to make it in grad school. And I had been reading and more recently leaving eons-long comments on autism blogs. So I decided, in a stroke of randomness, that I would start a blog. Choosing the platform was easy – I didn’t want to accidentally manage to confuse my personal google account with an anonymous blog, and further, I really liked the wordpress ability to follow comments via email without having a wordpress account. Plus, it was easier for me as an anonymous person, to comment on a wordpress blog, since there was no mess of signing in. And so, I made a wordpress account, and set about trying to come up with a good first entry. I’ll tell you something interesting… the first round of this blog was called “Seulement E” – French that roughly translates to “Just E” or “Only E”. Because that’s how I thought of myself in terms of the blog. I was just “E”, and I was telling my story. I registered the domain, and went about writing my first blog post.
As I sat down and wrote that first blog entry, it was just an introduction. I started out introducing myself… on the surface, this is what you see. And then I started to describe how autism plays into my daily life, and how that changes peoples’ perspectives, often for the worse. But that some people look beyond that and move straight to acceptance and friendship. And then suddenly, the concept of The Third Glance was born, and I knew, just knew, that I had something really neat, something more than “Just E”, but a powerful tool and perspective for helping change the lens autism is viewed through. Before I had even posted anything to my brand new autism blog, I had changed for the better, and The Third Glance blog was born.
I polished that first essay and obsessed. And obsessed. And obsessed some more. Then I sat down and hit “publish” to the blog. That very same day, I went on facebook and I put up a nearly identical copy of the essay and tagged a bunch of the people I went to undergrad with. I decided that I was done trying to hide. I didn’t tell everyone in my life, just a few people, but more than I had ever told previously. And I began to live more openly as autistic. Today, I’m not much more “out” than I was 2 years ago, though more people in my life know about my autism, and my blog. After I wrote The Third Glance, I went to my family’s holiday world, and the Autistic’s Holiday Survival Guide was born as I watched myself with new self-awareness trying to navigate the social minefield of the December Holidays. I wrote one of my all-time favorite pieces, Words, on the airplane ride back home, on a tiny little notebook (one of those 2×4 spiral bound pocket notebooks). And just like that, my little blog had grown. Over the next few months and years, I met some of the most amazing, supportive, wonderful people, and I’ve participated in some incredible things using the power of the internet and the power of the written word.
So today, as my blog celebrates its 2nd birthday, I was going to take you on a little highlights tour of the blog. But honestly, that’s not what I’m here to do. I have a page for that, it’s called “Posts I’m Most Proud of” – it’s not up-to-date, but I’ll get it there eventually. Instead, today, I ask one thing of all of my wonderful readers. Today, take that third glance at people in your lives. Remember that they, too, have difficulties, whether diagnosable or not. They too are human. And spread a little bit of compassion. And encourage others to do the same.
The Third Glance
p.s. I am interested to know, for regular readers, what the first post you read of mine was, and why you came back after.