Dan Gross blog #3 - Reflections For a New Year

In my view of how most autistic people feel at the beginning of a new year (especially in THIS day and age), I can only presume that a good deal of self-reflection is typical…just as it is with most non-autistic adults. However, I’m not sure what it is about self-reflection that, to me, usually implies that it is of the negative, self-flagellating kind. That is an apt description of the self-reflection I had around this time last year, as my 28th year was upon me. I can’t imagine a more fair or valid way to negatively reflect on oneself than to bemoan all the self-perceived ways that circumstantial change, personal growth, and career/life/romance progress have NOT come about, especially in the span of one year. Perhaps this is more of a young person’s curse, or an old soul’s charm, or a middle-age burden, or a self-critical excess of ambition; that debatable notion is something no one can really answer, besides for themselves and their families.

Speaking of family, that’s one thing I feel especially proud of this year, that I stayed as close and true to my family as ever, amidst all the busyness, acquisitions and ambitions we all embarked upon in our careers and social lives…which left us with a little extra money and contentment, and we largely earned it all for ourselves. I, personally, was busy with editing several cooking webisodes, indie features, music videos, short trailers, and promotional videos (16 of which were for my mother’s service dog nonprofit, the North Star Foundation). I also took part in an interview for a documentary and had a public speaking engagement at California State University, San Bernardino. Additionally, I attended four new film festivals, I had probably between 15-20 networking meetings with new mentors and old colleagues (across 14 different cities and towns, according to my Facebook), and, in consideration of my speech impediment, I purchased a “SpeechEasy” inner-ear fluency device to make all of the mostly-new-to-me politics behind everything aforementioned vastly easier for me. (The purchase of my first car this year also eased some things as well!)

However, what I may have zealously summated does not tell you is how much struggling I had to do, across many months before (and during) 2015, to achieve all of this. For example, I was basically fired/laid off from a few editing jobs this year, I missed out on about 6 near-opportunities for other jobs, and I was dumped by about as many women throughout my online dating pursuits. Not to mention that the vast majority of the previously-described projects I helped make have not yet seen the public light of day. I could write a whole other blog entry about the kinds of social and political lessons I’ve encountered (that I never saw coming in 2014), but I think the deepest lesson I’ve learned is just how much effort it takes to generate even one promising social/professional prospect out of thin air…let alone enough of them to not be overly-bothered or tormented when some inevitably fall through, sometimes permanently, with very little warning.

As one keeps on “playing the game of life” and getting better at it, it can easily become possible to generate one’s own list of “warning signs” with prospective mentors, friends, love interests, and opportunities…little things to look for that can save much heartache later. Even when not in the position to turn down a badly-needed source of income or companionship (as I hardly ever am), I find this makes it more easily possible to guard oneself against many kinds of emotional backlash that could await. However, I do often find it difficult to prepare myself for the many instances in life that require this decision: Do I suffer and struggle through a problem WITH this person, or do I discard this person because he or she is the root of the entire problem?

This seems to be a question that all of humanity struggles with, and I have been subject to an irrational discarding too often this past year. My periodic bristling against this discardure has caused me to mourn a certain loss of innocence that I know I’ll never get back, that maybe some part of me doesn’t actually want back, but I console myself with the many occasions I was not discarded in moments of mutual duress, which no two people are ever immune to.

It’s amazing how the passage of time can either heal a rift between people, or make it clear why that rift remains; I’ve certainly found a balance between both of these as 2016 is upon us, and I hope to live more quietly on an emotional level. It’s the one and only New Year’s resolution I have this year…that, and letting adventures find me more often. ;)