Saturday, November 29, 2014

Disappointment

I have went through an 8-week online course called Game Theory and I did experience interesting things while studying this course. I did manage to pick up on a few things about Game Theory that interested me and I felt like I did get some things out of it, that I can take with me for future projects. I believe that I was able to understand the general language of what the professors were trying to say.

I needed to get at least 70% on the final exam to get a Statement of Accomplishment and... unfortunately I wasn't able to get the job done. I just fell short. I scored 34.7% on the final exam, a test that was timed 4 hours which put some added pressure on me for obvious reasons.

I have stated it before on this blog that I don't take to pressure well. I have stated it before that I don't like the feeling of being rushed to make certain decisions. This final exam was yet another example of me not being able to adjust because of these particular restrictions. When you sign up for an online course, you have to abide by the rules that are in place. I understand that and I did the best that I could to make this online course work for me. I studied hard and I studied often. I studied for long periods of time.

The fact of the matter is that there were certain things in the Game Theory course that not only flew over my head but stayed over my head as well, as in no matter how hard I tried to understand what certain notations and terms meant, I always ended up scratching my head. The final exam was something that I felt was going to be a relaxing experience for me since it signaled the end of my studies. However, it just reaffirmed the belief that this was something I can't wrap my head around 100% no matter what I do to simplify my studying of it.

The title of this blog entry is fitting in a sense. I feel disappointed in myself. I feel like I fumbled the football, so to speak. I feel like I had an open lane to run to (another football analogy) but I chose not to go into that lane. I found myself questioning whether or not it was worth getting into, if I should have even went through with the online course. I knew there was a light amount of calculus to deal with in Game Theory. I knew there were going to be names of things that I have never heard about before. The entire 8 week journey was up and down and I felt like my mind would shut down if I studied too hard. On some nights I made myself so tired that I had to go to bed because of my studying of Game Theory.

I know it's nothing new in the realm of the Autism Spectrum for autistic people to feel disappointed in themselves. Autistic people know how they feel and they can be hard on themselves. I am guilty of that. Even when I do an okay job at something I feel like I do a poor job instead, as if I let someone else (like a family member) down. We feel disappointed because we thought that things would go over better than they actually did. We feel disappointed because we believed that we would do better than what we actually did. We feel disappointed because our creativity, space, time, and dreams all get stifled in some way, whether it's just us abiding by the rules or if it's something that is unjust. The pressure mounts and we don't adjust. The entirety of this picture hurts.

I guess it's just the fact that I put so much time into this online course, and basically since I didn't pass this course, the professors overseeing this will treat my final results as if I never even tried to understand Game Theory. I know it's not for a lack of effort. I was just overwhelmed and I think I can put it like that.

I know some of my readers out there have felt like this or are feeling like this right now. You probably feel like you had set out to do something really positive for yourself, and then the bottom dropped out and everything turned out negative. You probably feel like in one sense you are at fault for what went wrong and you don't understand why some things became such a mess. This feeling hurts and I understand this feeling. I have dealt with it and I still deal with it. Some days are ruined emotionally because of one bad thing that happened even if it wasn't our fault. We have to learn how to fight off these emotions of guilt and disappointment because life is unpredictable. We don't know when our good days will show up and when our bad days will show up.

Keep swimming.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What It Means To Be Thankful






I would like to wish all of my readers who support The Autistic Help blog a Happy Thanksgiving and I would like to thank all of you who have supported this blog for the first year of its existence. To be honest, it hasn't always been easy for me to delegate time to putting entries in this blog since my schedule has been up and down like a roller coaster. I definitely care about this blog and I want to see it grow. I want to see The Autistic Help become a successful blog that promotes Autism Awareness and I want to see it receive more recognition as time goes on.

The title of this entry reads "What It Means To Be Thankful" and I think this is an important topic for everybody who is autistic to dissect. What exactly are we thankful for? Why are we thankful for those things? How often are we thankful for the things we receive? How thankful are we even when things go wrong for us? How thankful are we when we go out in public and have a successful day communicating with other people who are not on the Autism Spectrum?

I am thankful for many things. I am thankful of the fact that I am still alive today at the age of 25 and I am thankful that I am still active as a writer. There have plenty of times where I have felt as if my own writing abilities have betrayed me, and sometimes I have felt as if I have done too much or too little of one aspect of writing to see the whole picture of writing. I have a habit of overlooking things and I keep thinking to myself "Why do I keep focusing on that thing and not on that other thing?"

I am a human being and I have my faults. I am far from perfect and I don't pretend to know everything about any subjects. If you were to ask me how to fix certain parts of a car, most likely I would have a blank look on my face because I really don't know the answer to that question. There are just some subjects where I am truly lost and I have no way of telling someone the correct answer to. It isn't something I am proud about because I should know some things about fixing a car, but I am always trying to open up. I am always as honest as I can when I answer people.

I am thankful to be alive. I am thankful to have knowledge on some things that truly interest me. I am thankful for being an outside-the-box thinker. These 3 things alone are the most important to me.

I am thankful for just being myself through the good and the bad. I know I have Asperger's Syndrome and I know people will view me differently because of this condition. I know that many people out there in the world will flat out despise me and will hate the way I think. I am thankful that I am bold enough to voice my opinions in this day and age because at this point 10 years ago, I probably would have been super quiet and shy, not wanting to talk to anybody.

This is the main point I want to drive home for this special blog entry. Be thankful. Be thankful for what you have accomplished. Be thankful for the improvements that you have made for your life. Be thankful that you have a support group that has your back, no matter how big or small it is. Be thankful that you have your integrity in tact. Be thankful for all the good days that you have in your life, because you only have one life to live.

For me as a Christian believer, I am thankful that God has guided my steps to even get to this point, and yes, there are still many battles for me to face. There are many spiritual battles that I have endured in the past and will endure in the future. That's just how life goes for a Christian. Without struggling a Christian cannot have a completely joyful life. Without any battles to take on, a Christian can't truly experience what it's like exactly to be a Christian. This goes far beyond donating to charity groups. I am thankful I didn't slip and fall into the wrong crowd, unlike a few people who I considered to be friends back in the day.

Be thankful above all else. I am thankful to be writing for Autism Awareness and I am thankful that fellow autists are reading this blog. I promise to update The Autistic Help. Thanks and take care.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dark Clouds of Freelance Writing



Have you ever had that feeling that no matter how much you love doing a certain thing that you will be consistently challenged by those who don't quite understand why you love doing that certain thing?

For me that's freelance writing in one nutshell. I love to write. I make that no secret. I care about what I write. I put in a lot of time to write down my thoughts, my journal entries and my articles. I probably put in more time than what people think. I got at my own pace when it comes to writing and sometimes that pace of mine just isn't good enough for some people. Putting it into basic terms, freelance writing can be a jungle. It is either very pleasant for you or it can be very rough.

Like all jungles, you can see the potential beauty of it. You can see the tall trees, the colorful plants and the streams of water that flow from side to side. Freelance writing is sadly also a jungle where blockades are set up to try and take away your joy. Sometimes you are in a struggle for survival as a writer because you are faced with tasks that initially looked like they could be accomplished in no time, but after a while you step back and realize that the clients who have given you these tasks are either completely unreasonable or they just don't understand.

I will refrain from mentioning any names of clients, but I will say this. When they demand something, they are truly convinced that that's the way it should be done and very rarely will they ever compromise on that stance. If you come across a client who starts acting nosy or bossy when you have online chats with him or her, be prepared to endure nitpicking and sometimes even unfair criticism of your work as a writer. That's the way things go in this jungle of freelance writing. If an unreasonable client lures you into a trap of his or hers, you will have the short end of the stick. You will be pushed and pushed to get specific details done, and then for good measure they will want to push you some more just for the kicks and thrills.

I'm not saying that this is the case for every single freelance writing client out there. That isn't my message here. My message is only that when writers meet clients that are so hard to deal with, and their standards are so ridiculously out of whack compared to others, writers need to pick up on these clients' tendencies right away. These kinds of clients only exist to take your precious time and joy away from you as a writer so that they can feel better about themselves. They set the bar either way too high or way too low that it becomes pointless for the writer to even care about the assignment anymore, and this is a problem that I feel will plague the freelance writing industry as a whole if nothing is done to stop this in the future.

Take this little tidbit as an example of the nonsense that I have to put up with when I search for online freelance writing jobs.

$1 per 500 words! $1.25 per 300 words! $2.50 per 700 words!

I honestly don't know where some clients' heads are at when they post nonsensical numbers like these but no writer can live off doing assignments for peanuts. No sane writer can function normally if this is what he or she has to put up with on a regular basis. I find these kinds of rates absolutely insulting and disrespectful towards the very principle of writing in general.

So what does this have to do with the autistic community? Well, considering that I have Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the Autism Spectrum, it has been especially difficult for someone like me to obtain freelance writing work. I mentioned this in just my last blog entry, but I feel that clients have intentionally set up this Anti-Autism Bias where they will not even touch a writer who is on the Autism Spectrum no matter how much success that writer has seen in this field. Do I have definitive, concrete proof of this Anti-Autism Bias? No. However, when you sometimes have a gut feeling that a bias is in place to prevent you from obtaining certain things, such as a job, then you might just be right if the pattern continues to form.

Autistic people are smart and gifted and it's just a matter of how to utilize the strengths of autistic people. Other people are so easy to forget the good things that we bring to the table and they will only highlight the negative things about us. Other people only want to focus on what's "wrong" with us instead of coming up with creative ways to use the best things about us. Writing clients are more or less like these other people who will acknowledge your condition on the Autism Spectrum, but sadly will fail to truly understand what it means to be be autistic.

For those of you who are autistic and love to write but have experienced difficulty finding writing assignments, just know that I am going through this same dark tunnel right now. It's hard for me to obtain any sort of work when I am just starting to go all out with my freelance writing ventures. Sometimes I feel like it's unreasonably hard and it should be easier than it is right now. I should be finding the right kind of writing assignments and not the typical boring assignments that I have no interest in, and certainly not the peanut-paying jobs.

Our battles are long and tiring sometimes, but we need to endure. We need to find a way to move forward.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Autism and Careers

Inevitably I was going to have to create a topic like this one because as of right now I am beginning my serious pursuit of establishing myself in the world of freelance writing. I am filled with joy in the sense that I finally have the time to dig into these endeavors and take on jobs that could possibly raise my profile. I am also taken back by the fact that freelance writing is a very competitive arena that I am entering, and I am not just competing against other writers in the United States. On various freelance job hunting websites, I am pitted against many other writers from all over the world and I have to stay on top of things in order to snag a job from the global competition.

I am also being pitted against writers who are much more experienced than me, as in these writers have much more officially recognized experience. Of course, I have experience in blog writing and such, but honestly anyone can get up on a computer and start a blog if they really wanted to. Potential clients that I am proposing my offers to are looking for official experience and they would certainly prefer it. Plenty of clients want their jobs done as fast as possible and other clients want something specific done to some written materials.

My adventures in freelance writing have been both interesting and perplexing early on. I find it interesting how varied the writing assignments are and I find it interesting just how much money one freelancer can accumulate depending on how successful he or she is. However, I find certain procedures on some freelance websites to be perplexing, as in I have no idea why those websites thought it was a such a good idea to go down that route. Freelance websites are generally not allowed to help freelancers in any way when it comes to getting set up with clients. There can't be any direct aid from the freelance websites, which is something I do understand.

Unfortunately, not all freelance websites go about things the same way. One freelance website will allow a freelancer to spend 40 "credits" or "tokens" when it comes to applications. Other websites will only allow 10 credits or tokens to be spent. There are some websites that will allow one to spend an infinite amount of credits or tokens, but then they will feature their own restrictions in other areas of a freelancer's profile.

Writing is something I put infinite value in. I believe that I was born with the gift of writing. I don't know how good I am at writing exactly but I definitely know that I am good enough to carry significant written material and bring that out into the limelight. Being a writer is the kind of career that I want to have. Writing relaxes me and it helps represent me, Steven Vitte. If anyone were to tell me that I had to give up writing or else they would punish me, to be honest with you, I would most likely say my peace, defend my love for writing, and get punished. I won't let anyone tell me what I can and cannot do and I won't let anyone micromanage my life.

Many people close to me know by now how much I value The Autistic Help blog. This blog frees me up to say how I feel about topics related to the Autism Spectrum. I haven't shied away from this blog and I won't shy away from this blog as long as I can help it. I'm far too invested in this blog to just give it up now. The same goes for my other video game blog and my freelance writing profiles.

Here is the meat of my issue. Beginning in November I have spent days searching for freelance writing jobs, varying from article writing to script writing, content writing, eBook writing, poetry, etc. and I have spent consecutive hours in those days to either work on a writing assignment or look for an assignment on the various freelance websites that I have accounts on. I fill out my profiles and I talk about myself a little bit. I talk about my strengths as a writer and I show clients what I have done. I show them the link to the article that I wrote on technology in the state of Ohio, which is a big plus in my opinion.

http://www.idgconnect.com/blog-abstract/8951/columbus-tech-overlooked-ohio

Many people have read the article that I have posted above and they all say that I have a way with words and that I am gifted with a certain unique writing style. It stands to reason that when a client sees a sample like this article would be inclined to think positively about a writer such as myself. One would think that a client would pause and think of the possibility of someone like me writing for his or her company and benefit from having such a good quality piece.

I suppose that if you are on the Autism Spectrum, you tend to automatically get shut out from certain writing opportunities just because you are autistic. 

Unintentional Prejudice Against Autistic Workers?

I'm sure that this strikes the hearts of those who are autistic but want to seriously pursue a career in something that they really want to do and love doing. As an autistic person, have you ever approached a possible employer about wanting to work for them, submitted your application to a person, and then after your application was reviewed that person came back to you and said that they couldn't hire you? Considering that you absolutely had the qualifications to work that particular job, did you ever feel like that employer used one of your own features against you?

Recently I have felt that has been the case with me and my online applications to clients on these freelance writing websites. Although I don't have concrete proof of this, I have begun to feel as if the very mentioning of The Autistic Help blog, this same blog you are on right now, has been the thing that for whatever reason scares clients away from me. Simply because of the thought that these clients possibly don't have a clue on what autism is all about, they could easily get spooked by the fact that I mention my condition of Asperger's Syndrome, and they eventually choose not to hire me specifically because of that.

Now how am I supposed to feel about that? How am I supposed to feel about placing an adequate and reasonable bid for a job listing that I want to have, and then be turned away at the last possible moment by the client in favor of someone else? How am I supposed to feel about being qualified for certain positions, apply for them, and then be sniped at the last second by another freelance writer who doesn't share the same kind of enthusiasm as me on those particular topics of the jobs?

Especially for the clients who would know some things about autism and what goes on in the life of autistic people, how would they explain to me why I didn't get a certain job if there wasn't some sort of Anti-Autism Bias being played? Lacking experience is one thing as well as not putting in the right delivery times, and I understand these parts well, but if I'm fit for a writing job regardless of what mental condition I have and I meet your requirements, then why won't you at least contact me and treat me fairly like all the other freelance writers?

Discrimination comes in many forms and it's not just limited to racial and spiritual issues. People can intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against you if you have a mental or physical condition as well. It's sad for me to know that there are people in the world who not only look down on us autistic people, but proceed to treat us lower than dirt. I have read many stories recently about autistic children being physically abused just because of the fact that they were autistic. Some abused autistic children have either been severely injured as a result, or they have died. This is just one bit of harsh reality people like us who are on the Autism Spectrum have to be aware of and accept, the fact that some people really just can't stand us and our autistic habits.

I want to have a career in writing. I am in desperate need of getting that career in writing. I am serious in my pursuits of obtaining work as a freelance writer and I refuse to allow the Corporate World to dictate what I can and can't do as a writer just because I happen to have Asperger's Syndrome. Just because some corporate suits aren't that familiar with the Autism Spectrum and the ins and outs of it doesn't mean that they should have the right to punish autistic people and prevent them from having the careers they want to have.

I have long waited for the opportunity to write in an official capacity and the door was opened with my article with IDG Connect, but there has to be more than that. I am not satisfied with just one officially published article. I want more assignments and I need more assignments to do the things that I want to do down the road in life and be happy with what I'm doing as a writer.

Remember the Pursuit of Happiness? If you want to think about the movie title that featured Will Smith then that's cool, but I'm talking about the actual Pursuit of Happiness, what was written in the United States Declaration of Independence, a document that still means something to me.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All I ask my future potential clients for my freelance writing assignments is to do what's right, not what they think is right but aren't totally sure, but what is practically right according to the laws of the United States and according to our forefathers who built this country. I deserve to be treated just the same as everybody else. I deserve to obtain the rights to write articles, scripts and general content just like every other writer who isn't autistic. For any clients who may find this blog and this article in particular, what are you going to do to help give me the help that I need to become a firmly established writer? What is it about my writing style that you don't like? What is it about my writing that pales in comparison to other writers? 

Just because I'm autistic means that I don't opportunities? It's time to wake up, and I'm going to be a driving force in making people wake up...