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 ♾

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

When Your Life Stops but the World Keeps Going

Photo credit: Matthias Cooper

Even though I do my best to keep my Reddit experience to just the things I want/need to see, sometimes things outside of that creep in. Today there was a post about Frank Ocean losing his little brother and as soon as I saw that, my heart broke into a thousand little pieces. Frank Ocean is one of those artists I listen to when I’m in a sea of despair because, like me, he’s an INFJ and so his music really speaks to certain parts of me. Always there when I need it.

As I’m trying to do my TESOL homework, I’m extremely distracted, probably because I feel things way too deeply. It’s more likely, though, because this reminds me of my own loss, and I can’t help but understand and know the kind of pain and devastation he’s experiencing right now. 

It’s as if time stops moving. You’re stuck in this in-between space where life is still moving and life has stopped. There’s an unbearable weight on your chest and in your throat and there aren’t enough tears to cry, but somehow they still keep coming out. You’re in shock. How? How? How? How could this have happened? How?

The pain becomes so unbearable sometimes that the only thing you can do is try to scream it out. So you yell, you scream, you bellow your pain out into the world, to try and make the pain go away. But when you’re done screaming, it’s still there, so you cry some more. The unfairness of it all is extremely cruel. 

Then comes the unbearable truth that the person you love can no longer come up to you and give you a hug, you can never look into their eyes again and tell them you love them, and there appears this hole in your world, where someone very important is missing. Then comes the unbearable truth that they’re never coming back, that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday. 

And then comes the unbearable reality that you are alone in what you’re feeling, and that the whole world isn’t mourning with you, that while they may send multitudes of sympathy and condolences, they can never understand the depths of the heart break and heart ache that you’re experiencing.

My heart is with you Frank Ocean.

∞ Aminah Jamil

Getting Over Career Fear

Technology will always have a place in my heart. Always. But I recently realized that the only reason I started working in tech to begin with is because it is safe. Well, not necessarily safe as in you could never get fired, but safe as in it pays well if you’re willing to put in both the time and the work, and you can (usually) find a job in some area of technology within a few months with close to zero experience, having built up your experience through learning within those few months.
 
I love creating. Anything. And when I was building my first blog on WordPress some 10-odd years ago, I found that I had a lot of fun with it. Though I wasn’t serious about it until 2017, I’d continued to dabble in web development, building things for freelance clients here and there, not fully understanding the world of code, but knowing my way around it enough to be okay at it.

Now that I’ve had experience in the corporate tech world, I never want to go back. There is no bone in my body that wishes to return to that overly competitive, non-diverse place, but it’s the only thing I have actual working experience in.

So what now?

I’m not alone in being a late-blooming career-changer. There are many people, like me, who gave up their dreams for financial stability just to find themselves wanting their dreams back. Maybe they had a near-death experience and know that, if they don’t live their dream, they’re not really living. Maybe they found their current career to be so oppressive that they’d rather starve than to continue working in it. Or maybe, like me, the universe threatened to kill them if they didn’t write the damn novel. Maybe they’re somewhere in the middle. Maybe they’re none of these.

At the end of the day it’s up to us. No one else can make the decision for us. Many people choose to stay in their current careers and push through by working on their dreams during non-working hours. Ain’t no shame in that. I wish I had that ability when I was working for my previous employer, but we came out with new products and features every year, over 100 of them, so my non-working hours were spent learning those new products and features.
 
It was fun while it lasted, but something called out to me that needed to be set free, and here we are.

Some might say that my point of view is an entitled one. I’d have to say that I disagree. My point of view comes from experience of both good and bad, both with their relevant lessons. I won’t be standing on a cliff screaming that I only deserve the best, better than what people who’ve worked hard for that same thing deserve. In fact, deciding to go back to writing requires that I start at the bottom, unless I’m believed in enough to be given an opportunity to start higher. It’s the idea that in order to be and do something great, we have to suffer doing something that we absolutely hate, something that makes us miserable just to make a living in the meantime that I really despise. Or getting into a field because of how lucrative it is, not because we find purpose and value in the work.

Do I think I’ll ever become so desperate that I’ll try for a tech job again? I’d have to say nah, I don’t think so. I’ve reached a point in my life where I can’t put up with BS anymore, BS being doing something because of fear. All of my decisions are now based on love – love of myself, love of my dreams, love of my freedom, and love for the world. The world deserves us at our best, does it not?
 
∞ Aminah Jamil

1,001st Blog, Probably

This domain name has seen its fair share of blog platforms and purposes. From a personal blog, to a music site, back to a blog again, and now literary writing, I almost want to punch myself in the head for going back and forth between desires so ridiculously.

Such is life for a person who wants to do everything, but fears commitment to one thing. As I travel through my early 30s, I’m beginning to understand what I really want, what can be a career, what should remain a hobby, and so on. Part of me wishes that a finite choice can finally be made, but the better part of me knows that in order for that to become a reality, true self-confidence must arise from where I lacked it in my formative years.

Luckily, the confidence to do wild things, things I’d never thought I’d do has become an almost daily part of my life. Maybe less than almost daily, but still. As I get older, I find that I care less and less about what a ‘right’ life and a ‘wrong’ life look like. The desire to separate myself from the rat race in any way possible, even though many may look down on, or even be envious of, that decision; the desire to be as wild of a woman as possible because this is my only life as Aminah; the desire to go places I thought lived only in my imagination. The structure of the freedom to live my life on my terms is forming right before my eyes, and with it, my true childhood, adolescent, and young adult dreams are coming to fruition.

The only way any of this could be possible is faith. A faith so strong that it may seem naive in the eyes of those who take to the world of form as their only representation of what is true and real. Faith in my experiences, my abilities, and the unseen forces that drive abundance into our lives, should we let it.

So, here we are again and here I am again, talking about things, writing things, creating things, and living a life that is true to me. I am content. Long live this blog, forever and ever, until the internet dies.

∞ Aminah Jamil