As 2019 draws to a close, I look back and realize how grateful I am. I live with people who support me and my aspirations. I have a flexible job. I live in the greatest country on the planet, the United States of America. I am in good health despite having to deal with Von Hippel Lindau Syndrome. I have a roof on top of my head and food to put on the table. I also have this awesome growing side hustle I am doing that lets me blog, vlog, and talk about comic books. Despite many twists and turns, I have to say, the 2010s was a a crazy decade but one of fun and self-discovery.
In the 2010s, I slowly but gradually developed a visceral view of the man I was becoming. During the time when the economy was in the crapper, and Justin Beiber was basically being seen and talked about as if he was the Second Coming, I wasn’t quite prepared for what this decade was going to throw at me. I was on a long road to self-acceptance, I was beginning to understand one of the true meanings of creative writing, I had to comprehend the trajectory of my purpose, experience living with a disease, meeting new people, trying new things, moving to a different state, and learning self-love.
First off, I do not describe myself as an “Aspergian” or an “Austic” man. I see myself as someone who has to live with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism (HFA). I do not believe in the idea of labels. I am not Aspergers or Autism. Aspergers or Autism is not me. Some people who have Autism may not agree with me and may see themselves as an “Autistic” or “Aspergian” and that’s okay. I just don’t put the label before me. However, this notion has also gotten me to push aside that side of myself and even deny that I have Aspergers. I would barely tell even those who I was closest too outside my family that I had to deal with HFA. It was not until stress at my current job that the jig was up and I disclosed that I had autism. My disclosing was analagous to Superman revealing his identity in Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman #18. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and looking back, I should have done the same in college. I write that because the people that I work with were very understanding and supportive. I have no doubt that my peers and creative writing professors back in UC Riverside would have been just as supportive if I really let them know about me. I do suspect that some could tell that there was something about me but I regretably hid that part of me.
I originally studied creative writing to help me get a career in journalism. However, I look back and I am starting to understand why the field gravitated towards me. I don’t think that it was neccesarily the career aspects that drawn me to it. It was that it was just fun to not only write but create a universe or a view of a universe through one’s lense. Creative writing has had helped me develop a vicarious view of other people’s lives and to remind myself to not see things in black and white. Plus, another reason I did it was because in my first year, several of my hallmates were doing it and they had such joy in their faces discusing many aspects of a story: characterization, plot, imagery, style, voice, theme etc. And I have enjoyed taking part of the workshops where I learned from both the professors and peers. However, that all ended around 2011 after I graduated.
As a result, I abandoned my creative aspirations and tried out careers in the education, medical, and financial fields due to not getting an opportunities in the journalism field. I wanted to work in a “real job” and just make money. And because of that notion, all endeavors had ended with little to no success.
In the year 2011, I worked as a substitute instructional assistant for children with special needs. While the position was rewarding, I knew that I wanted to do something creative. Although I was promoted to a full-time instructional assistant in 2012, I did not last long in the position since it was not really for me and got let go. I was back on as a substitute but left around 2013 to move back with my family in Los Angeles. However, the most reward aspect of that experience was that it, along with watching Smallville (mentioned from a previos blog post), had positioned me to slowly helped me accept my autism.
While working as an instructional assistant, I also decided to pursue a career in the medical field by studying sonography. However, I had zero interest in the filed and I failed physics, which was a pre-requisite for the program. Apparently, I did learn my lesson from my previous experience taking chemisty from my first year in college; I was legitimately not a science guy. While I was in physics, I paid very little attention and bombed two midterms. I did do some studying, but I was not getting the material. I ultimately did not take the final and abandoned the class on June 2013, the same time I left to go back home in Los Angeles.
After struggling financially, I took several computer programming courses and decided to get back into journalism. I eventually found a job working at a credit union which was emjoyable since it was near the beautiful beach of Santa Monica. As a result of that, I thought I could pursue a career in accounting. While I did manage to get an accounting job in addition to taking several courses, I ended up getting fired due to incompetence on the job.
It did not take me too long to rebound back to employment. I have gotten a new job which is the place I currently work at now and it has been a good experience. There is a great amount of customer service involved in this job but it has also helped me learn how to communicate well with others in a tactful and vicarious manner. The position is also great since it allows me to leave earlier than 5pm. As a result, I have enough time to do my side hustle and pursue freelance journalism.
Those experiences, although most have lead to failure have taught me that I am a creative and that I needed to realize that the world owes me nothing. It did not matter if someone was chosen over me to get a position, if I had all the qualifcations under the sun, or if I was not liked for who I am. Only I owe myself all the love and support that I need; the rest can (or doesn’t have to) fall into place.
There were other experiences that had me take a hard look at who I was becoming. Around 2014, I joined a Toastmasters in Santa Monica called Club 21. I learned a great deal about public speaking and also the importance of listening. It was there that I slowly started to embrace my creativity and a sense of myself. I learned that I was not afraid to go infront of a crowd and speak.
Another huge moment in this decade was learning that I also had a rare condition called Von Hippel Lindau Disease. This disease can cause tumors to develop on the eyes, brain, spinal cord, pancreas, kidneys, and reproductive organs. So far, I have had several surgeries but I have been doign very well. I have doctors that look at my case periodically to make sure that I am on track. I also learned a valuable lesson when it came to worrying about this diease from a brain surgeon. He told me that I need to focus more on my “why,” or my purpose. It made a lot of sense. My purpose, my reason for living should be my focus over even the seemingly scary things in life.
Moving to Arizona was one of the craziest things that happened to me in this decade. I didn’t think I would ever move out of California but I did. If I were to steal the Doctor’s TARDIS and go back in time to tell myself from 2010 that six year from that year, he would be moving to Arizona, he’d laugh his ass off. And that move was amazing. It was a scenic drive as my family and I drove through the desert from Los Angeles and through Riverside County. Other experiences included going on several stops for food. One funny experience involved my cat crapping in her travel carrier and me having to clean her up as well as the carrier.
After settling in Arizona, I have also learned about self-love and how integral it is to ones life. This goes back to accepting myself for who I am: a man who has Aspergers and Von Hippel Lindau Disease and yet is creative, gregarious, intelligent, and awesome (did I mention handsome to all you ladies out there? *Laughs!*) But yes, I have been learning how to love myself more by listening to myself and even learning to say “no” to some people. Even as a Christian, I had to understand that if I am to love God and Jesus most high, I need to also love myself because God made me. And self-love also taught me to not blame others or anything else for my failures or mistakes. I am the reason for my failures and mistakes. No one else. Furthermore, self-love reminds me to never look back into the past but learn from it and move on.
And this decade was also where I discovered how much love and passion I have for comic books, Star Wars, pro-wrestling, and anime. I eventually ended up going to my first comic convention in Los Angeles where I met Hayley Atwell, the actress who played Agent Peggy Carter from Captain America, and got her autograph. Three years after moving to Arizona, I started to go to Pheonix Fan Fusion where in 2019 this year, I met Ray Park who played Darth Maul, Amy Jo Johnson, who played Kimberly the Pink Ranger, and comic book writer Christopher Priest. Later that year, I also met actress and gamer Felicia Day. My passion for comics made me start this very blog, the Earth-16 Comics Wire (Previously known as the Boy Wonder Press) and the Flashcast podcast with the DC Comics Geeks Nation.
In closing, This decade was an adventure and one I would never forget. It was a helluva decade. I’ve started to learn how to accept myself for who I am. I have no idea what the 2020s will bring but I am certain that it is going to be full of adventures and happenings worth writing about. Heres to a good decade to all in the multiverse!
-Brian From Earth-16