This week my attention is on being the flagman for one of the largest kart races in the world. This is my fifth one but even though I'm here in Vegas my mind is still on autism awareness and understanding so is like to go back to 2008.
I don't know if you'll believe this, but I feel that the SKUSA Supernats is one of the most important things that have ever happened to me. I know, that's a bold statement, but back at my first Supernats I was not a public speaker. The original version of my book was not yet released, and I had zero confidence in myself. Sure, I could flag club races, but I had no confidence in myself at all.
And not only this; not only did I have no confidence but the effects of that are wide ranging. And when I say confidence I don't mean the confidence to speak one's mind or the confidence to not worry about one's image. No, the confidence I'm talking about is the confidence for life.
Confidence for life? What this means is that I felt I could never be or do anything. Part of this was that awful website I read after I got diagnosed that said "a person with Asperger's will never have a job, never have friends, and will never be happy." That words defined me and if one believes those words then what confidence is there in life? Here was my logic; I could try as hard as I could but regardless of this I will never be able to succeed because there is no chance of anything other than no hope.
Then, I was selected to flag the largest kart race in North America. Me! I was flagging in and around the Saint Louis area but I had never done anything special that was an international event , but I got thrown into the fire and came out the other side shining. Without a doubt that race 4 years ago was the most difficult event I have ever been a part of, but I made it through and they keep inviting me to be the chief starter so here I am.
Here's the thing; I realize not everyone is going to have a Supernats moment like I did and this is where the need for awareness and understanding comes in. Remember, I said that the website I read was only part of the cause. The other cause for me was the minor social run-ins I had with others. I now realize mine were minor as I was never really picked on at school and was simply by myself. But this was something I grew to accept and never sought friends because it never worked out so therefore why try.
"Why try." Those two words are the words I lived by after my diagnosis. What was the point of trying when failure was a guarantee? If it weren't for the 2008 Supernats I don't think I'd ever have had the confidence instilled within me to be a speaker. Last week was the most amazing week of my life as I had seven presentations in front of a total of 1,680 people. Who I am now started four years ago and it all began with just a sliver of hope that was born of a ray of confidence. Again, not everyone is going to have a chain of events I did, but one thing that I truly believe is that, if people understand our differences they will be able to see who we are more clearly.
Above all things though I know that one of the worst situations possible is a person thinking that everything is a no win situation. I lived in that world for many years. I am grateful I came out the other side and it is my continuing mission to bring about a new level of understanding so maybe another person will come out of that would, or maybe a person will better understand the person with Asperger's. So yes, this week isn't exactly the same as giving presentations. However, for me, it will be a reminder of who I was, and who I am now. I have come so far in four years. Further than I ever thought possible and yet here I am! I never thought anything like this could happen to me because, after all, what's the point in trying since nothing good will happen? I can remember those days vividly and I wish I could go back and tell myself "Go ahead, give life a try! Should you fail, should you fall, it's okay. Life isn't always a no-win game but to have a chance you must first try. You won't always win, there will be hiccups along the way, but go on and live life instead of letting the no-win world be life."