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

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

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

Rediscovering My Inner INFJ

Photo credit: Skitterphoto – I think I will start using images that reflect the post content…

Hello, hello, hellooooo there. Though I plan to write a blog post about why I quit my job, I haven’t done so just yet, but I really want to talk about this INFJ and Myers-Brigg topic which will touch on some of the points about why I quit and things that I realized about myself in this post. You’ll be able to read it in much more depth once I publish the ‘Why I Quit My Job’ post.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Most of you have probably heard of the MBTI (though my mom hasn’t, and I feel like I should send her a link to complete it), and some may agree with its test results while others may not. I was kind of skeptical in the beginning because I seemed to flip between INFP and INFJ quite often, leading me to believe that the test was off. I’m not going to go into the psychology of it all here; I encourage you to do some research on it if you’re interested and take one of the tests you can find online for free here or here, or pay for it here.

After a while I’d begun to realize that we can waver between two similar types depending on the day, and that made a lot of sense. I think, especially for women whose hormones quite heavily affect their moods like me, that wavering between two MBTI types happens often. Men, too, perhaps, but being a woman gives me more anecdotal insight into the matter.

How Did I Come to Rediscover Myself as an INFJ

For a while after college I thought I leaned more towards the INFP side of the house, so I just submitted to that type for a while. It was okay, especially as I was working for my previous employer and had to be a lot more sociable due to the nature of my job. In fact, I’d put the MBTI out my mind and focused more on material world things instead of spending time in my mind in a way that many INFJs are familiar with. Moreover, my job didn’t really allow me the time to be in my head. Much of my post-working hours were spent learning and understanding the super-advanced technologies that I was supposed to teach to my clients and help them to understand. 

The first year went well. However, the second year I began to burnout really, really badly. To make matters worse, my second manager quit about three months into my getting to know my first multi-billion-dollar-a-year-in-revenue  client, kind of leaving me high and dry with my very, very ESTP/ENTJ/ENFJ colleagues in the sales group. Being an introvert and being the kind of introvert who needs a lot of background information before I feel comfortable adding my input, things started to sour. Eventually I went back to my first highly unsupportive manager, and then moved to a very supportive manager. Eventually he quit, too, which sent me back to the unsupportive manager. Needless to say, the burnout plus the lack of support and the slow but obvious shift of my role into being more sales-y than technical is what drove me to quit.

I’ve been away from that job for almost two months now, and I thought that I’d get back into a tech role, namely software or web development. But as the days have gone by, and I’ve been able to hear and feel myself again, I’ve come to realize that I don’t really want to be in the tech industry anymore. If you read any ‘recommended careers for INFJ’ website, they’ll say that jobs such as web developer or programmer are good. While I agree with that, as I enjoy coding, it’s the job searching process and the inherent competitiveness of the industry that tends to leave us feeling drained.

Plus, I realized that the only reason I was in the field to begin with is because we will always need technologists and many roles are very lucrative. If you read just about any job site in regards to coronavirus’s impact on the job market, jobs in technology are the ones that have remained relatively unscathed. That’s awesome news for anyone wishing to enter or stay in the tech field. 

Being able to hear and feel myself again, though, is how I’ve been able to rediscover my inner INFJ again. I realized that I’d been lying to myself about what I really want to do and how I’d like to go about it for a long time now, almost four years. The scary thing is that I’m in my 30s and I’m still asking the question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

Post-Rediscovery –  What’s Next?

Rediscovering my INFJ has reminded me that, for those of us with this type, it’s completely normal and to be expected to still ask that question. Not only are we idealists at our innermost core, but we need to feel some kind of purpose in what we do. That’s a tall order to ask of many jobs out there. And being in my 30s and still having student loan debt to pay off, I do not want to go back to school. That leaves a lot of unanswered questions and soul-searching to do.

Preliminary soul searching led me to life coaching and opening up a body care business, but there’s a lot that goes into both of those before they can actually become things I can make a living off of. While I still plan to pursue life coaching in some form, I’m seriously dabbling with the idea of becoming an English teacher. Obviously not in the U.S. because that would require more schooling.

Then there’s the writing, which is like a loyal lover following me throughout the highs and lows of my life. Vlogging has also made its way to the forefront of my mind. Being a vlogger has always been a weird idea to me, though I’ve attempted it multiple times. I think it would be a purposeful endeavor to use vlogging as a way to help other INFJers that are around my age understand that they’re not alone and how to navigate being an INFJ in a non-INFJ-friendly world (even though I’m not exactly sure myself – maybe we can navigate together). Or in the very least, watch me as I stumble through the rest of my life trying to figure things out.

All in all, I feel a sense of relief remembering my MBTI type, INFJ. Instead of feeling like a complete failure, I understand that this is normal for me and my INFJ people, and that once we find something that isn’t crazy draining, but also purposeful, we will finally experience peace. Hopefully. For a while, at least. 

Are there any INFJs reading this? What’s your experience been like? Have you found success in a career you love? I’d love to read your story!

∞ Aminah Jamil