I have some news that I really, really wanted to share during Autistics Speaking Day, but at the time I felt like it wasn't appropriate because I didn't have confirmation yet. So here it is.
I am officially now a chapter leader for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. I'm going to be running the Greater St. Louis chapter.
Naturally, I am very excited about this. I've been wanting to get involved with the ASAN for about a year and a half now, because I really like Ari Ne'eman and I really like the ASAN. But it kind of seemed like this impossible dream and I used to become discouraged quite easily. Since I saw what I did on Autistics Speaking Day, I realized I had a decent chance of accomplishing things if I put a lot of effort into it. And I thought, why can't I do things like this all of the time?
I knew there was a possibility of the chapter starting when I was working on Autistics Speaking Day. I knew I really wanted this to happen, but I was kind of scared at the same time. I turned 22 on November 8th. I'm young, I'm naive, and I can be kind of foolish sometimes. In the past I've been kind of aggressive about my views and I'm not good at being diplomatic (although that's getting a lot better with age). Most importantly, I had no experience with the organization and I had never tried to lead anything before. And Autistics Speaking Day turned out to be incredibly difficult, more difficult than I'd expected, and I worried about putting myself through that again. I was worried that I would not be capable and would not be successful. I'm still a little worried about that. But I don't want to give this up. I've spent the past few years wanting to do something with myself, wanting to be useful or make a difference, and now I have an opportunity to actually get involved instead of reading about what other people are doing.
So now I'm trying to get a location to have a meeting and get people interested in going to the meetings. I know I'm going to be really busy but I'm okay with that. The thing is, I don't have a job. I worked for my mother's medical transcription business once, and I was really good at that job, but when she lost clients and had to lay me off I never really found anything else. I'm living with my fiance and he makes enough money that he can pay all the bills and still have extra money for us to do things. I don't really need money. I wanted something to do. And the more I thought about it, I would rather do something useful and rewarding than try to get a retail or fast food job that I will hate. And as nervous and anxious as I am over the uncertainty of what will happen, I've never been this happy before. I have the opportunity to make a difference and run this chapter, and I know that I have the means where I can work on it.
I'm going to try my best to make the Greater St. Louis chapter successful, and I'll do whatever I can to help the ASAN achieve its goals. Wish me luck. :)
Contact me if you're in the St. Louis area and would be interested in going to our chapter meetings.