Feeling overwhelmed is normal for me. With Aspergers, sensory constantly over-stimulates me. Anxiety and depression add to this feeling of inability deal with life.
Lately, however, a new feeling of being overwhelmed has started. Instead of feeling miserable and unable to cope, I feel so joyful that life seems almost impossible. That doesn’t make sense, I know, but it is true. I am overwhelmed with happiness, hope, and possibilities. For the first time in my life, I feel…good.
Now this feeling does not come guilt-free. Do I really deserve joy? After all, I have messed up so many times. Fear also creeps in when I realize my optimism. Who knows what the next day will bring? My whole world might crumble apart. After all, misery remained my companion for years, whispering of my worthlessness and chuckling over my mistakes. Could I have broken free from the binds of self-hate into the light of a hope-filled future?
Growing up, I dreamed of being successful and happy. With a paper-thin body and flowing golden hair, I would cause everyone to fall in love with me. My intellect would surpass the wisest man as I gained several doctorates and discovered numerous scientific, philosophical, and other truths. To make a huge impact on the world, my mission would involve saving lives, starring in films, meeting world leaders, and winning as many awards as possible. People would see me as an inspiration who gave everything to do right.
However, those dreams cannot come true. Although part of me clings to them, I need to separate myself from childhood fantasy. Certain parts of them still have a strong place in my heart. Hopefully I will accomplish those ones because they could have a probable and valid place in my future. The others must be left behind.
I will never be the most beautiful, intelligent, selfless, loved, famous, or talented woman. In fact, I will never be the most of anything. With few exceptions, most people have someone better than them or worse. Gauging yourself by the progress of others often ignores your own growth and maturing.
Instead, clinging to these dreams, I am going to make new ones rooted in reality. That does not mean settling for less; I still aim for high achievements (you can read my bucket list here). My plans now include touching and helping others. However if I do not win the Noble Peace Prize, star in numerous Oscar-nominated films, or marry a prince, that is fine. Life can still be worthwhile and purposeful.
Anyway, back to being overwhelmed with joy, it feels different than I had envisioned before. However, I think that what I am going through right now is better than being a famous actress. Perhaps I am wrong but if so, I wouldn’t know the difference.
Many things are going wonderfully. Friends are reaching out to me. Instead of second-guessing everyone’s intentions, I have begun to trust. This has led to meeting with classmates, buddies from treatment, old friends, and respected adults.
Also so many opportunities have arose in the past few months. Now I am working at a welcoming little restaurant, editing the website of the school newspaper, speaking at Toastmasters, and (I just found out today) soon will be tutoring at school! All of these jobs or activities fell into my lap. Because of my willingness to take on new things, I now am involved in meaningful activities like never before in my life. Plus I have done a great deal of advocacy and speaking out about mental illness and Aspergers. Recently, I wrote in the student newspaper, spoke at a chapel, had a piece published in my school’s literary magazine, and will hopefully be doing an interview for the school news!
If someone had told me all of these things would be happening in my life, I would have laughed. Never before would I believed that this was possible. However here I stand, overwhelmed with happiness. There will be difficult times ahead. However, I now know that life can be a beautiful thing. For everyone struggling, I want you to know that there is hope. Even a few months ago, I was stuck in a horrible dark pit. Now, through support and hard work, I am emerging a changed, strong, and hopeful woman. Being overwhelmed can actually be a good thing. Who knew?