Spirituality Won’t Cure the Autism

A gorgeous, God-provided Friday sunset in Tanzania, photo taken by me

Ever since my childhood I’ve been obsessed with the supernatural. Spirituality, religion, astrology, magic—if it was difficult to explain or measure, I was geeked. With that interest, it was only natural that when it felt like my life was falling apart (as well as when my life was actually falling apart) I would turn to a Higher Power to help me get some control back.

Despite all my of previous religious leanings, plus my current spiritual leanings, nothing seems to make the effects of this new-found autism self-diagnosis go away. While I only recently, meaning yesterday, found out that there’s a 99.9999% probability that I’m on the autism spectrum, I didn’t just get on the spectrum. I’ve been on it my whole life.

Because I have the ability to look back on said life and see all the ways not knowing about this autism likely fucked me over in multiple ways, I can see how all of the prayers, the meditations, the retreats, the new moon salt baths, the ayahuasca ceremonies, the shroom trips, etc. did absolutely nothing to help me overcome the existential dread, social anxiety, random bouts of depression, communication blow-ups, etc.

I’m not saying that spirituality and religion don’t have a place in a neurodivergent’s life, because I love me some God. What I am saying is that, instead of approaching spirituality from a place of, “ oh my god, there’s something wrong with me, please help me fix me 😩,” I can now approach it from a different vantage point.

I have no idea what that vantage point is right now, but I think it’s probably somewhere along the lines of accepting this self-diagnosis, educating myself about myself and everything that seems to stem from the autism, e.g. masking, isolating when overwhelmed, emotional outbursts, lack of boundaries, etc., educating those around me, advocating for myself and others like me (to the best of my abilities), and using spirituality to give me the courage and confidence to stand firmly in my truth and the truth about who I am.

Another important piece is, now that I know the why of the reason I am the way I am, I can better manage and cope with the uncontrollable stressors of life, and have an unmovable rock to lean on through the storms that this world can stir up.

All in all, the gist of this post is this: spirituality is amazing. My relationship with those in the other realms is unmatched, and no I cannot see dead people. That would nice though. I do not, however, believe that it can cure autism. To be honest, I feel like autism is a gift in a way. It’s made me extremely resilient, open to other ways of thinking and being, curious, and able to self-soothe if need be. I’ve been able to explore so many different avenues to better understand myself, that I can understand others better, too.

This journey is about to get interesting, friends!

♾ Aminah Jamil

Today I Discovered I’m Most Likely on the Autism Spectrum

Taken by me, today, the day of the self-diagnosis. I call it, “The doors of truth open for you.”

I preface this post with “most likely,” because it was a self-diagnosis, I probably won’t be able to get in front of a psychologist for a while because I’m currently living in Africa, and because many of the traits listed are me to a T.

The discovery was by sheer happenstance. An email came through, I was about to unsubscribe because the author had been sending daily, near back-to-back emails, and I was tired of receiving them. Luckily, it was that email that was the final straw, because otherwise, I would’ve just sent it to the trash.

If you haven’t gathered just yet, I am extremely excited about this self-diagnosis. It explains so much that I always thought was just me being weird. Feeling like I don’t fit in anywhere, uncontrollably saying inappropriate things at inappropriate times, being able to communicate my truth best through writing vs verbally, the social anxiety, and so much more.

Some of the traits can be traced back to my childhood, the number one being that my preschool teachers asking my mom if I was autistic because I never said a word, but that was long gone by kindergarten because I’d begun to start working on my mask. Other traits I presented included self-soothing by rubbing the satin edges of my favorite blanket against my face, rubbing my earlobes, and sleeping under the cot so my face could feel the cold floor in preschool (I remember that to this day. I’m still confused as to why the teachers never put me back on the cot 🤔)

Prior to this, I’d been mucking around in Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) territory, which, by the way, likely goes hand in hand. My theory is that, because of being on the spectrum, CEN happens more often to those children simply because they don’t act like “normal” children. They may be harder to discipline, or may cause trouble more than other “normal” children. Which would absolutely be my case on 💯. You can ask my mom.

So what does one do after an Autism spectrum diagnosis? Read more on the topic of women on the spectrum (because many women on the spectrum never receive a diagnosis simply because more research and information about it is directed at males on the spectrum—females present much differently, and have often been successful at creating masks to fit into normal social situations), find out more traits to look out for, search for any resources to assist someone on the spectrum, and find a tele-psychologist who might test me at a distance.

I mostly wanted to come and say this, in case any of my followers also foot the woman-on-autism-spectrum bill. We shall see what comes of this!

– Aminah Jamil ♾

A Little Less Square, a Little More Round

Photo Credit to Erez Attias

Lately I’ve been feeling rather soft, like some kind of pillow full of fluffy stuff. Maybe more like the fluffy stuff than the pillow itself. That softness has become the core, the foundation, the essence of who I am. Or have I become the softness?

Have you ever shifted into a consistent state of being, a state of being different from states of being you existed in for the majority of your life, but one that was absolutely and undeniably familiar? You never want to leave this place, because you know if you do you might get swallowed up whole by an unforgiving world that is more unrecognizable the more you try to understand it?

Somewhere along the way of quitting my job, moving to Arizona, realizing I no longer want to work in tech, making the decision to become a life coach and writer, leaving Arizona and moving to Albania, settling into a life very different from the one I thought I’d be living around this time, deciding to move to Africa to join my family, and releasing every single atom into the unknown of what I thought I was and just allowing myself to be swept up by the river of life, giving it permission to take me to exactly where I need to be…somewhere along the way I found the feeling that I always want to exist inside of. The core, the foundation, the essence of who I’ve always been, but that was hidden beneath layers of the person I was told or made to believe I was supposed to be.

Not too long ago I entered the 33rd year of my life. I’ve known for a while that my 33rd year would be a catalyst for what the rest of my life would be like. It’s already begun. I’ve started to carry the weight of a person who has a large library full of esoteric literature, the kind of library that has two stories worth of books with worn spines, gold lettering, and stories hidden between the lines of written words.

That’s just how I feel. Round and like I have a large library with lots of esoteric books.

It’s almost like there was a particular timeline that didn’t exist until I entered the wormhole that opened up on my 33rd birthday.

Things that don’t make sense hold no realness to that aspect of myself that doesn’t speak, but only listens and observes. The square world, the world of capitalism and cold-hearted technology that does very little for the prosperity of the many, doesn’t feel real to me anymore. The more I distance myself from the Imperialist American Empire, the less I’m gripped by that feeling of desperation to become something that is foreign to the natural world.

Is it all in my mind? Maybe. Maybe I’ve drifted into a waking dream that only makes sense to me. Maybe I’m all alone here. But I’m absolutely sure that I’m not. I’m sure that you understand me on some level, and that you, too, are wondering the same thing as me.

Anyway, now that I’m here, now that I’m in year 33 and destroyed many of the ideas of what I’ve been told countless times life is, I’ve slipped into the person that I’m supposed to be. Maybe not fully, but I’m close. Like I’m pulling the pants up of my waking self onto the self I’ve always been and will always be. Things don’t fit quite well just yet, but we’re getting there.

I feel a little like Alice, but I also feel like the Cheshire Cat, too. In this story, though, I’m not chasing the white rabbit; I’m chasing my own shadow.

– Aminah Jamil

Career Change, Website, and Medium

Hello my friends. This will be a quick and straight-to-the-point post. I recently began posting on Medium, which I am enjoying very much! The platform, the ease of use, the community, and much more has me hooked.

My most recent post is here, if you’d like to take a gander:

Embrace the Pivot: How to Rock Your Career-Change Like a Pro

I also launched my freelance writer website here: www.aminah.io

If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it! In the meantime, I’ve got to jet to a training. We shall talk soon.

∞ Aminah

I Should Change My Middle Name to “Pivot”

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Hello there!

It’s been a minute, but hopefully not too long.

I thought I’d come back through with some updates.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts about a huge change of plans that forced me to re-evaluate my career, things have really, really been changing for me, as I’m sure they’ve been changing for a lot of you all with the craziness going on in the world.

I used to get really self-conscious about how much I changed my career, and especially when looking at people my age and how much they’ve accomplished thus far in life.

I’ve since come to accept that this is just part of my life. Until that thing that makes me financially, mentally, and emotionally comfortable comes along and sets up shop in my career department, I’ll be pivoting, again and again. 

Luckily, somehow, the universe continues to clear a path for me to do something I’m wonderful at, something that comes quite effortlessly to me, and something that, if I’m being 100% authentic, doesn’t feel like work, and I am actually happy doing it.

That thing is writing.

Despite the pivoting I’ve experienced throughout my career life, the one thing that’s always been consistent is writing. Every single job I’ve had to do, writing was a big part of it. So I guess I should cut myself some slack, huh? 

If you’re like me, a middle-aged millennial (meaning your birth year is around 1985-1990), and you keep finding yourself wondering what the heck you’re supposed to be doing in this life, please don’t give up. But also please give yourself a pat on the back for how hard you’ve worked thus far. And also please don’t give up on any dreams you’ve ever had in your life—try them out, if you have the chance. 

Look, if the only thing that’s stopping you from going after a dream is fear, whether it’s your own personal fear or fear from naysayers, PLEASE KEEP GOING.

Maybe You Still Don’t Know

Even after winning the young author’s contest in the 3rd grade, I still had no clue that I wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until my adolescent years that I even started writing creatively, and not until my early twenties that I took writing seriously enough to consider just doing it on the side.

Plus, think of all those famous writers who didn’t become famous until their forties and fifties. Kids, we’ve still got time, okay? Not that we’re trying to get famous here. Let’s call it “meeting our definition of success”. 

We still have time to meet our definitions of success, no matter how many times we need to pivot; we will make it there. 

You heard it here first!

Tl;dr – be okay with the pivot, it’s okay not to know what you want even if you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s, 1000s, etc.

∞ Aminah Jamil

I Just Moved to Albania

Photo credit: yours truly – I think Dajti Mountain National Park 🤔🤔🤔

Welcome to Albania

It’s been two days since I arrived in Albania. I’m still quite a bit jet lagged and all that, but I’m mostly happy to be here. Anxiety was beginning to take over my life back in America, so much so that it was becoming harder and harder to focus on the things I wanted and needed to do.

Obviously Albania is its own country, but I get super France vibes here, though I’m guessing these are just European-not-America vibes. I just got had by a little kid selling bandaids. I thought it was maybe because I’m a foreigner, but when he came up to me, he spoke in Shqip, which is the language of Albania (thank you God for my ethnically ambiguous looks). He also got another man who was definitely Albanian, so I don’t completely feel like a loser.

Albanian bandaids 🩹

Initial INFJ Impressions

My introverted self feels fantastic here. No one is bothering me (for the most part) and if they do, I can finagle my way out of it since I don’t speak any Shqip, except for mirëdita, ju lutëm, and faleminderit (which I keep forgetting how to pronounce). Those are “hello”, “excuse me”, and “thank you”, respectively. I guess that’s what comes with a society that’s been pretty closed off from the rest of the world since very recently.

Most Albanians leave Albania; not many people actually emigrate to Albania. I read somewhere that there are more Albanians outside of Albania than actually in Albania. It makes sense though. Most Albanians make very little money here, so many believe, and rightly so, that there is more opportunity outside of the country.

While my dominant introverted intuitive self is loving this, my auxiliary feeling self is not alright. I usually get a sense of how others are feeling through body language and spoken language; however, because half of that is missing, it’s difficult to gauge my surroundings. It seems that I’ll be enhancing my intuitive abilities until I get a better grasp of the language.

Aminah Always Finds a Way

Loneliness has been my bff for the past month or so. At first it felt like I was dying; no physical contact, no deep conversations, nothing of depth besides journaling and going deeper within. It was rough, but I know I’m not alone. This social distancing mess has created walls between us human beings thicker and taller than I can personally remember there being in my 30 some years of being alive.

Eventually it grows on you. As an introverted person, it’s easier to get used to. Having been socially disadvantaged for so long means that you already know what it’s like not to be able to form those deep connections. I feel for my extraverted folks out there though. While it’s easy for me and other introverts, our extraverted brethren are probably having a difficult time in the world. I sincerely hope y’all are doing okay.

But me in a whole new world away from everything I thought I knew and thought was for me? I’ll be alright. I never seek to fit in anywhere because it just never seems to happen that way. I rather like being on the outside looking in – makes for good stories 😊

Before I go, if you’re an INFJ or planning to move abroad someday in the future, check out my INFJ Abroad YouTube channel. I’ll be updating it weekly with new content, so stay tuned and enjoy!

Welcome to INFJ Abroad

♾ Aminah Jamil

Sleepless in Phoenix

Photo credit: Aminah Jamil – the sunset from my balcony

Today is the big day: my permanent overseas move. I’m hesitant to write the exact location until I’m actually there. Perhaps a little bit of childhood jinx residue left over from past disappointments.

I’m supposed to be up in 2 hours, but I can’t sleep. The majority of yesterday was spent running errands and clearing my apartment of the last bit of the things I’d accumulated over the years. It’s kind of wild to see just how much stuff I had, and how most of it was purchased in order to cope with life.

There are 3 suitcases and 2 bookbags on the floor in the living room waiting for me to add the last few things before I zip them up and bungee cord them together to escort me to the airport. The amount of stuff in them is still way too much, even after having shaved down my entire life to fit inside of them. Hopefully once I get settled into living abroad I’ll cut down my items by half, or hopefully more than half, in order to give myself better freedom of movement between locations.

Even though I’ll be able to sleep on the plane, I really want to sleep right now. You know how it is; you finally get to sleep about 25 minutes before you’re supposed to be up and it’s the most dreadful feeling in the world, like WHY did even attempt that little bit of sleep anyway?

Because why not? 😏

Fast forward 5 hours into the future…

I’m back. I went to sleep and, lo and behold, had a semi-difficult time waking back up. The only way I was able to was because I had this weird dream where I was talking to one of my ex-coworkers in sales, and he was telling how great of a decision I made leaving the company and that he didn’t have the balls to do the same. And then I proceeded to attempt to coach him on ways he could make it happen, but then he started speaking in sales and I had no choice but to wake up.

Now I’m on the plane heading onto the first leg of my 3-leg trip. I have advice about packing, because I didn’t do it well. Let’s get on that in a future post.

Let’s talk soon my friends 👋🏽

– Aminah Burch

Tomorrow I’m Leaving

Photo credit: Aminah Jamil – The southeast mountains of Colorado.

Right now it’s 8:14am PST and I just finished meditating. It’s either overcast or there’s a haze of really bad air hovering over the south Phoenix mountains. I’m sitting here, paralyzed, because I still have quite a bit to pack and quite a few errands to run while I still have my car.

Tomorrow I’m leaving. I’m moving overseas. The reality hasn’t hit me yet, even though my apartment is mostly empty and I’ve got suitcases and things strewn about. It’s not as scary in regard to moving so much as it’s scary in regard to the impending unknown.

I’m going to a place I’ve never been before, and while I’m both prepared and unprepared, the lines between the two are heavily blurred. I’m not sure what part gives me the most butterflies: the unfamiliar culture, the unfamiliar people, or the fact that I’m never coming back to America if I can help it. Now, that part hasn’t sunk in at all and it probably won’t for a while.

It’s now 8:20am, and I should probably get up and start finishing the rest of the packing and cleaning. I suppose I’ll return at a later time to provide updates.

Till then.

– Aminah Jamil

Life Moves Faster Than Me

Hello my dear readers,

It is I, Aminah, back for an update because I’ve been gone for a long minute, a minute longer than I’d anticipated. My last post (I think I published it…) was about my new moves: teaching English in Korea, getting my TESOL, etc. not necessarily in that order.

Guess what?

THOSE PLANS FELL THROUGH!

I was hesitant to write about it because NO ONE likes to admit defeat or failure, and that’s exactly what this was. Granted, I’m two micro lesson video recordings and submission of my teacher’s portfolio away from getting my TESOL certificate, so not all was a failure.

Suffice it to say, I have learned a lot about myself in the process of things falling apart and me trying to piece them back together again. My resolve to never re-enter the world of tech is still strong. It’s so strong, in fact, that I get nauseous just thinking about applying to a tech role. 

Anyway!

My overall goal was to dip out of America tout de suite (or right away, for my non-French speakers) for reasons which I will not talk about on my very apolitical blog. Because they can be deemed as political, and that’s not what this blog is about. While I love South Korea, there are things going on within its borders that I’m not too keen on (political stuff mixed with public health stuff), and I think that my inability to snag a teaching job was kind of a miracle amidst all of that.

We shall see about my emigration goal in the coming weeks and whether or not something can be done to accomplish it. If I’m successful, you surely will find out.
As for writing, that was put on the back-burner until my completion of the TESOL certificate, which should be within the next couple of weeks.

As for life coaching, my resolve for getting serious about it has been stronger than ever, especially after I kind of pushed it to the side for the possibility of teaching.

As for teaching, with the world the way that it is, I don’t foresee myself in front of a class room any time soon. And even if I do end up teaching, it would have to be of the internet flavor for now and the unforeseeable future. 

I’ve thought about going back to school to get my Master’s in Psychology. I’m still on the fence about it and luckily I have some time to think on it since I wouldn’t be going until Fall 2021 or Spring 2022. 

One thing I know for sure is that I have an aversion to commitment because of the possibility of failure/plans falling through/the world going to crap/[insert other reason for fear of commitment here] and it’s something that I am working on. Seeing as to how my teaching in Korea plans failed, you’d think I was a complete mess who would never ever commit to anything again. Fortunately, I’ve a bit of resiliency for things like this so I wasn’t a complete mess; maybe just like 67% 😆 

Anywho, I’ll slowly be making my way back here, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me. In the meantime, be well, stay healthy, and keep flowing towards your happiness like water flowing to the lowest point. 

∞ Aminah Jamil