School · Self-Reflection

Reflecting on Past Lecture Goals

Even though I have to stay an extra semester to continue working on my graduate project, I am officially finished with my required lectures. I got a B in my Software Requirements Engineering class, which I’m pleased with because my professor was awful at getting our grades back to us and so many people were stressed about their grades. I think that professor may have ADHD and while neurodivergent people can sometimes be kind of good at noticing other neurodivergent people, I work in IT in a lead position so that makes me not qualified to diagnose people.

Anyways, while working on editing old blog posts this week, I came across a 2018 self-reflection post on how I feel about returning to school. In that post, I identified five ways to help put as much effort as I can into my classes because I feel like I did not put much effort into undergrad sometimes and thus did not do as well as I should have in undergrad. In this post, I will reflect on how well I kept up those efforts.

#1: I will utilize the small library on the military base I work on, my kitchen, and maybe some local libraries as study spaces. I designated those study spaces because at the time, I lived 35 minutes away (in good traffic) from campus and did not want to spend gas money using the campus library. I also didn’t drive myself the first year. Utilizing study spaces was much easier when I did discrete mathematics because I didn’t need a computer for the class. Computer Science classes usually require a computer to do your assignments. Two or three days per week, I went to the on-base library to review what I learned and to work on homework. However, the library closed at 6 PM so I would pack up at 5:45 PM and continue my homework in the kitchen. I didn’t utilize any local libraries because my husband would often encounter loud children in the library when he would try to study. When I got married and moved out, I studied in my home office, which was created out of one of the bedrooms.

#2: I will read the textbook ahead of time to get an idea of what I will be learning about and to identify any concepts that are hard to understand. Yeah, this didn’t last long. I did this for math class and for my first year of school, but I lost motivation in Fall 2019 and after that, I only had one class with a required textbook. My professor from last semester also said he was going to give us PowerPoint slides and extra readings ahead of time, but he only did that once and he did that the morning of class.

#3: I will review what I learned in the previous class to reinforce concepts in my head. Again, this only worked for my first year at school, but I picked this habit up again during the 2020-2021 school year when we were all online. In the 2019-2020 school year, I lost motivation and I subconsciously slacked off in comparison during the fall semester. I had classes three days in a row that semester so I didn’t have much time to study, if at all. Due to how my grades during that school year were not good in comparison (3 Bs and a C, and one of my Bs was a Covid curve a professor gave everyone), I was tempted to retake my Human-Computer Interaction class this semester to improve my C since I think I would have gotten a higher grade if I remembered about the title page in my first 3 article critiques. However, I decided not to since I didn’t want to do in-person classes during omicron.

#4: I will utilize YouTube videos to supplement my learning to review concepts in what could possibly be a new way or to fill a gap in my learning. This was so hard to do! I have attempted to do this, but the videos teach you in a way the professors don’t teach you and sometimes professors want you to solve problems their way. Also, why does it seem like it’s only Indians making YouTube videos for math and computer science concepts? I have found a few videos by black YouTubers, but their comments are usually about how their answers are wrong. My friend was going to make videos of these concepts so there can be more black tutors on YouTube, but her dad’s poor health had started getting worse.

#5: I will learn study skills that I did not learn in the past. By that, I mean I actually studied. I did not study much in undergrad and while I seemed “lazy” for most of undergrad, me taking longer to follow college study skills was due to then-undiagnosed autism. In discrete math, I worked on practice problems when studying for exams. In other classes, I followed the advice of doing practice problems for exam reviews. When we got the correct answers for homework assignments, I took time to understand HOW we got to that answer. All I really did was learn from my undergraduate mistakes, especially since I was mostly done with grad school by the time I found out I’m autistic. My therapist also helped me with skills and she made sure to use skills that work with neurodivergent people. I also found out that my therapist is neurodivergent and she found out in college when she struggled in school. However, she was diagnosed (I think ADHD, though she didn’t say her diagnosis) as a child, but her parents never told her. Having a neurodivergent person give neurodivergent advice is very helpful as neurotypical advice may not work.

Be sure to tune in next time when I talk more about neurodivergent topics such as “Should you disclose?”, “What to do if someone says Asperger’s”, and neurodivergent therapists.

Mental Health · Self-Reflection

Done With DBT Program: My Final Thoughts

Hello everyone, I have completed all 24 weeks of the DBT Skills Group program at my therapy center. In this program, everyone who completed all 4 modules “graduate” from the program. Just like in my Halfway Done blog post, I will be discussing things under an autistic lens. Please read that blog post for some background information on how the program is formatted and why I was in the DBT program.

In the first two modules discussed in the aforementioned blog post, we focused on “middle path” skills and interpersonal effectiveness. After that blog post, we focused on the modules that I felt were the most important to me: distress tolerance and emotion regulation.

For distress tolerance, we learned to do Pros and Cons, TIPP, ACCEPTS, IMPROVE, Radical Acceptance, and Willingness. I have a hard time with ACCEPTS and IMPROVE because those are long acronyms. TIPP has become my go-to skill and Pros and Cons helps me with decision-making as I have a hard time with making decisions.

For emotion regulation, we learned to identify emotions, identify myths about emotions and how to challenge the myths, checking the facts, opposite action, and problem solving. Identifying emotions is very difficult for me due to alexithymia (I talk about it here), so I liked that we got an emotion wheel to help out with identifying emotions on a deeper level than mad, sad, and glad (or in my case, anger and anxiety). Figuring out how to challenge myths was hard to the point of nearly impossible, mainly because the homework already included examples of how to challenge myths so I wasn’t able to come up with my own challenges.

Let’s go back to a question I asked myself: Is DBT autism-friendly? I feel like the emotion regulation and distress tolerance skills were a bit more autism-friendly, but DBT as a whole needs more work to be autism-friendly. Actually, therapy as a whole needs to be autism-friendly. Maybe I’ll write a post about it. So one thing about emotion regulation that I liked that fits my autism profile is the emotion wheel. I have trouble identifying my emotions, but I also find visual cues helpful. The emotion wheel helps me visually identify my emotions. I like the colors too. Smiley face. I also like the acronyms for distress tolerance skills as I can see the words to figure out what to do. Side note: I found this one poster at my autism evaluation center and bought a travel-sized version of it. Here’s the Generation Mindful product I bought. Again, I love the visual representation that I can easily refer to.

So what do I think about the program as a whole? I have seen progress in using these skills and I finally found skills that work! Before DBT, NO therapy skills worked! I would still do them to humor the therapist even though I knew there would be no results. I had therapy-resistant anxiety. While DBT was originally made for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, I feel like this type of therapy also works for people with therapy-resistant mental illnesses. Did nothing work in the past? Try DBT. DBT skills groups also teach skills by learning the skills and practicing the skills via homework or group activities. However, my DBT group also had diary cards you had to do each week, which I don’t know if all groups require it. This forces you to do the work to “get better” and to maybe put in more effort than you usually did in therapy.

There are many worksheets in the DBT book I used that weren’t assigned for homework. As my therapist is a part of a group of DBT therapists at my therapy center, she plans to give me occasional homework out of that book to continue my DBT practice.

School

Graduate Project Deliverable #1: Literature Review

Note: What you’re required to turn in depends on your university and your project advisor. This blog post, and additional posts about my graduate project, is about my experience.

On September 17th, I had a literature review due. This was a deliverable that was due for me, but you might not be required to turn in a literature review. However, regardless of whether a literature review is required, I still suggest you read some relevant scholastic articles. You should be able to read scholastic articles for free through your school. I especially suggest reading articles because if your graduate project deals with improving something, you can get an idea of what things were like in the past and notice flaws in a system.

I have done literature review critiques in my Human-Computer Interaction class, but for that class, we review one article of our choosing almost once a week. This meant that the concept of a literature review was not new to me, but since I had to review multiple articles in one, I needed a little assistance to figure out this new way of reviewing articles. For that, I used this sample literature review from a different school as a guide. However, ask your project advisor about the guidelines on how to format your literature review as title page guidelines may vary from school to school, or even professor to professor.

If you have a literature review, you need to find articles that are relevant to your project. As my project is to improve emergency healthcare services for autistic children, I looked at my long list of autism articles sent to me by a doctoral student to find articles that dealt with autistic children in healthcare. I then took notes on each article to start figuring out how to organize my literature review. After reading the articles, I decided to organize my literature review in the following sections:

  1. Introduction (which mainly explained what autism is)
  2. Barriers to treating autistic patients in a healthcare setting
  3. Suggestions to reduce treatment barriers
  4. Critiques of the articles and studies
  5. Conclusion

Time for some self-reflection. When I was reading the articles, I thought back to the experiences of my autistic uncle who died in 2007. Complications from getting some teeth pulled had him in the hospital and the doctors didn’t take as much care with him because he was primarily nonverbal. People who have read my other blog posts know that I am autistic as well and have medical-related anxiety. A nurse wasn’t very sympathetic with my anxiety traits when I had to get a throat swab to test for strep throat years ago and it ended up being a traumatic experience. I didn’t mean to move the back of my tongue multiple times to stop her from swabbing my throat. I know I’m too old for that nonsense, but I have severe anxiety issues that are related to my TWO anxiety disorders and my then-undiagnosed autism. That was one of the last times I went to a doctor. I haven’t been to a doctor in over four years and it would be hard for me to find an autism-friendly doctor.

We need to keep the end goal of our graduate projects in mind. We need to think about the articles from the past to shape how our projects positively impact the future.

Mental Health · Self-Reflection

Halfway Done DBT Skills Group. How is it So Far?

Hello everyone! I have finished 2 of 4 DBT skills group modules and I wanted to discuss and evaluate DBT and my skills group as a whole. Unlike some other DBT discussions, I will be discussing things under an autistic lens as well.

For a bit of background, I have been diagnosed with autism, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder. DBT was originally created for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, but it has been shown to be helpful for the treatment of other mental illnesses.

The format of my DBT skills group: My DBT skills group consists of 4 modules running for 6 weeks each for a total of 24 weeks. New people can only join at the start of the modules and people “graduate” at the end of their 24 weeks. Graduates are welcome to redo the skills group and some people felt like they were able to grasp the concepts better the second time they did it. We have to fill out and turn in diary cards each week and we also have homework every week which we go over each session after our mindfulness activity. Homework helps us practice our skills. While some DBT groups have a module for mindfulness, we have a mindfulness activity at the start of each week and we teach mindfulness for an entire session at the start of each module. This is our sequence of events during each 2-hour session:

  1. Mindfulness exercise
  2. Homework review
  3. 10-minute break
  4. Skill learning and homework is assigned

Each DBT program may vary from therapy center to therapy center. You may also be required to be in individual therapy in conjunction with DBT group.

Why I am in DBT: I am in DBT because my anxiety has not been responsive to typical therapies. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is supposedly best treated with CBT, but it failed with me. My Panic Disorder diagnosis is very new. These are comorbid with my autism. My goal in DBT is to learn distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills. If DBT fails, then I must be put on medication. I really hope it doesn’t fail, as this is the only therapy option I have left.

Is DBT autism-friendly? Eh… So far, I don’t know if it’s the program facilitators or DBT as a whole, but it doesn’t seem very autism-friendly. One of the things in the emotional regulation/middle path module deals with changing behavior with rewards and consequences. I told my individual therapist that it didn’t sit right with me because it felt like ABA, which autistic people consider an abusive therapy. I’m also struggling really hard with some aspects of interpersonal effectiveness. Due to autistic people having “theory of mind” issues, I can’t determine how I want someone to feel and think about me since I can’t see things from other people’s perspectives. I also don’t socialize due to the innate inability to socialize and the trauma that has occurred from it. The only thing I applaud is that when it came to a part where the workbook mentioned eye contact, the facilitator pointed out that some neurodivergent people don’t make eye contact. We’ll see how it goes for the rest of the time in it.

My thoughts: I’m kind of disappointed with the program so far. Before, it didn’t really feel like it’s helping much except for the fact that I didn’t have ideations due to having a humiliating public panic attack, but I’m starting to remember skills to use which I consider progress. I came in on the emotional regulation/middle path module (my facilitator calls “middle path” “emotional regulation, part 2”) and have completed that and the interpersonal effectiveness module. I was hoping to like interpersonal effectiveness, but it just doesn’t feel fitting to me. I feel like there’s more to interpersonal effectiveness than DEAR MAN, but it seems like we were mainly doing that. My next module is distress tolerance and then I have emotional regulation. A prior therapist felt like learning emotional regulation will help me be more successful in treating my GAD, but I feel like I need to learn distress tolerance so I don’t get to a dysregulated state. My goal is to reduce the severity of my anxiety so I only experience anxiety in the way someone without an anxiety disorder does. I want to experience no anxiety, but my parents’ failure to get me help makes that unrealistic without mind-numbing medication (though I’d rather experience no emotions than constant anxiety).

Last week when I was writing this, I felt that I have low expectations for DBT working. After today’s homework review, I have slightly higher expectations, but I don’t want to raise my hopes too high in fear that it doesn’t work.

School · Self-Reflection

I Can See The Finish Line! Reflection on Spring 2021 Semester

Unlike my other school reflection posts, this will only include one class. That is because I only took one class during the Spring 2021 semester. With the exception of Software Engineering 1 and Advanced Web Developments, classes I have taken that are not a core class are not offered every semester. The other lecture class I am required to take is only offered in the fall and I will be taking my final lecture class in Fall 2021.

Software Testing and Maintenance: I kind of liked this class. I was a test engineer in a previous job and I loved the repetitiveness and explicitness of what to do. However, I feel like this class did a little more theory work than I expected. Yes, Computer Science focuses on theory. Yes, this class was one of the more hands-on classes I took. Did I want more hands-on work? Of course! This class helped me to fully understand the concept of creating unit tests. Even the job training bootcamp I did for a low-paying programmer job years ago didn’t teach this. The only thing I truly didn’t like about the class was having a project suddenly sprung up on us. If you read my posts about my neurodivergence, I like being prepared ahead of time. Usually, professors I had will tell you in the syllabus about a project so you’re not caught off guard. The sudden project was stressful for me because I was also working on my graduate project proposal and a homework assignment for this class.

Final Grade: A-

Overall GPA: 3.365

Okay, let me say a couple of things. One, I expected a B or a B+ in that class so I’m very surprised with the A-. My grades from this school year (2 A-s and a B) are definitely big improvements over my 2019-2020 school year (3 Bs and a C). I had the goal to keep my grades up and I ended up improving my GPA! For grad school, you need at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate. I’m going to definitely do my best my final semester because I am considering getting a Doctorate at the same university after taking a break and though the program does not have a minimum GPA requirement, I want to make sure I don’t jeopardize things.

Fall 2021 will be my final semester in the Master’s program. I’m so happy to be almost done because I am tired of people at my church asking me when I’m done. I know it took me much longer than two years to get to the end, but do I have to be judged for it? I will need to apply for my December graduation by August 15th. However, I will be changing my last name some time in July so I am unsure whether to apply for graduation now or wait until I change my name and have my new name documented at my university.

School · Self-Reflection

A Reflection on the Fall 2020 School Year

Hello everyone. It has been a very long time since I reflected on my time in grad school. I completely skipped reflecting on the 2019-2020 school year. For my newer readers, I did reflections a long time ago on the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters in grad school. I did not do a reflection of the Fall 2019 semester because I would usually say what grade I got in the class and I was worried about failing a core class that requires at least a B to pass. Also didn’t do a reflection of the Spring 2020 semester because… well, you all know why.

So this is how I did my reflections. I would name the class I took, talk about my feelings about the class, and say my final grade. I posted my overall GPA at the end. In the 2019-2020 school year, I got 3 B’s and a C. I can only have at most two C’s, so I have been working hard to have no more C’s.

Software Engineering 1: This was my favorite of the two classes. My professor talked about software engineering practices that go on in the tech industry and he would also help us revise our homework assignments. While I typically hate asking for help since that opens me up for criticism, I took advantage of it because a few extra points can make a difference in your grade. My industry experience really helped me. However, I had so many assignments to do near the end that I developed stress headaches that lasted for about two weeks. The final paper was hard to write because each section had word count requirements. I honestly had no intention of taking this class, but the two classes I have left to take in the Software Engineering class requires me to take this class before I take the other classes.

Final Grade: A-

Object-Oriented Methodology: I wasn’t a fan of this class because we were forced to have our webcams on during class (it was a class rule written in the syllabus), but this class is a requirement for the Software Engineering track. My professor had a weird grading scale (for example, a B+ started at 91.99%) and the programming assignments were 60% of the final grade. I am very horrible at programming (I gave up on being a software developer because of it) and except for the first programming assignment, we had to do the assignments individually. We were supposed to have partners, but more people voted against partner work. This scared me because if I failed this class, I would have to switch to the general program that is not track-specific. Someone I used to have class with failed this class and he was also in the software engineering track before switching out to the general program.

Final Grade: B

Current Overall GPA (coming from all the classes I took in grad school): 3.334

Last Fall, I had lost motivation to study and the Fall 2019 classes were hard! While my grades definitely dropped in the last school year, I’m glad that I gave myself a stricter studying schedule to put in more effort in the Fall 2020 semester. I am only taking one class next semester, so that should ease the stress a lot especially since I also have to work on my proposal for my graduate project. The track requirement classes aren’t offered every semester which is why I’m doing one class next semester. If they were, then I’d be taking my final two courses next semester instead of one class in Spring 2021 and the other class plus my graduate project in Fall 2021. I’m getting closer to the finish line.

Self-Discovery · Self-Reflection

(Re)Discovering Me (Part 2: Discovering and Rediscovering my Interests)

While this isn’t necessarily meant to be a neurodiversity-related blog, I should mention that autistic people have special interests and I am trying to figure out if I had any interests that went so deep as to count as a special interest. See Part 1 here.

Now that I no longer live with my parents, I feel more free to discover and rediscover myself, my interests, and passions since I am free from possible judgment. Now that I’m learning more about myself, I can look at things with a different lens. Welcome to another self-reflection, by the girl who calls herself Dia or Cara on here (story of why I picked fake names for this blog here).

When I was younger, my primary interests were music and medical stuff. My current interest deals with social justice.

Music interest: I first started playing instruments when I was in 4th grade when I played the clarinet in band. I switched over to bass clarinet in the middle of seventh grade. I originally wanted to switch to the bassoon, but after a trial period during new instrument try-it-out time, I couldn’t play the bassoon because my fingers were too skinny to cover the holes. I took beginning piano during junior year to fill a class period spot in my schedule. I wanted to do music theory, but I felt like I’d have a hard time during ear training when you have to identify notes without seeing what is being played. During grades 11 and 12, I was in pit orchestra which meant I had to play the clarinet again. I started losing interest in music during my senior year of high school when I didn’t make the all-county band (I swear it was because someone pointed me to the wrong direction of my audition room which caused me to be late) and I couldn’t hear when instruments are out of tune in comparison to other people. I was planning to take digital photography as my fine art credit during university, but it would have caused my schedule to be weird with two days where I’m taking 4 classes and two days where I’d only be taking digital photography. Therefore, I decided to do Intro to Music in History (I shorten it to Music History) as my fine art credit. I returned to music at my unitarian universalist church by singing in the choir. However, last year, our choir director stepped down and we never found a new choir director before Covid shut down churches. While I was waiting for a director, I wanted to continue doing music, so I became a percussionist in the house band. I only got to perform twice before… yep. Covid shut things down. Music is still happening virtually, via us playing along to music that will be edited together, but this semester is a busy semester. I got a music theory book for my birthday so I can continue reigniting my interest in music, and finding the right music theory book was a tough journey. Looking through Amazon (I was forced to create an account to access an eBook for training, so I just use it for wish lists), many of the books were very basic music theory stuff, like learning musical notes and time signatures. Stuff I first learned in elementary school.

Medical interest: It’s weird that I have an interest in medical stuff since seeing a doctor always caused great anxiety for me. I wanted to be a doctor because I woke up in the middle of the night, watched Children’s Hospital (no, not the Adult Swim show. It was filmed in the UK and aired on the now-defunct Discovery Health channel), and enjoyed the show. Looking back, it’s a good thing I’m not a doctor due to the misogyny women doctors face and the fact that American society is becoming disturbingly anti-doctors and anti-medicine. I would read the medical encyclopedia mom got (I got rid of it before 2009 since the encyclopedia was made in 1989 and information was out of date) and even helped my dad when he needed to go to urgent care for stitches back when I was 9 (be careful with knives). I majored in nursing during my first year of university, but due to still-undiagnosed neurodiverse condition(s) and the fact that having a differently-wired brain makes university so much harder, my GPA wasn’t high enough to continue unless I either retake a class or stay for an extra year. I still like to watch medical stuff and I still struggle to find good surgery videos, but I don’t have nearly the same level of interest that I once had. However, I am a very strong believer in medicine, despite people now thinking that people who take prescription medicine are stupid for listening to their doctors.

Social Justice interest: I have no choice but to have an interest in fighting for social justice. I’m black. I’m a woman. I’m bisexual. I’m mentally ill. I have an undiagnosed neuropsychological disability. I need to fight for my right to live. However, people have tried to silence me in more ways than one. People only use the term “liberal” in a negative way. Social Justice Warrior once had a positive connotation, but now has a negative connotation. I could go on and on. I am finally free to fight for social justice more often. While I go to a Unitarian Universalist church, it seems like Unitarian Universalism cares more about environmental justice. When nationwide protests started happening earlier this year, my church finally started caring about black rights (it’s a mostly-white church). However, the vigil was led by white people, I left the social justice committee because the members were speaking on my behalf and were being white saviors, and an anti-racist white caucus group was started. This is a problem that many oppressed people face. Our allies are speaking on our behalf instead of standing with us and helping to amplify our voices. I could write a Master’s thesis on people speaking on others’ behalf (this is a big problem in autistic communities and LGBT communities as well). Please don’t take this as a sign that we don’t need your help. Just be mindful of how to help and to sit down and shut up when we are present. We have a voice. We can use it. I have to have an interest in social justice until the day I die, even though I have many factors that will give me a much shorter life span than everyone else.

I hope in the time I have left, I can learn and have the time to dive deeper into my interests.

Self-Discovery

(Re)Discovering Me (Part 1: The Journey of Unmasking)

Masking is when someone changes their personality to fit societal norms. People of all genders mask their emotions because “boys don’t cry” and “successful women aren’t emotional.” People know the advice “Be yourself!” fails because being yourself could lead to bullying or teasing. Many neurodiverse people mask to avoid bullying or to try to fit in with popular or neurotypical peers. For example, autistic people may mask their symptoms by forcing themselves to have eye contact or force themselves to not stim. As a possibly-autistic (not formally diagnosed since no one here is doing neuropsych evaluations during this pandemic) person who has been confirmed to be neurodiverse, I will talk about masking through a neurodiverse lens and how I have been masking so I can start my journey of not wearing my mask all the time.

Even though I have suspected myself to be autistic over 5 years ago, I was unfamiliar with the concept of masking. Probably because I didn’t start REALLY suspecting myself to be autistic until February of last year when I almost lost my job over social inappropriateness. I didn’t fully have my “A-HA!” moment until August when I switched to a new therapy center and I was asked if anyone has mentioned the possibility of being on the autism spectrum. Since then, I have been working on learning about my gifts and challenges that come along with my differing neurological makeup. After watching a Purple Ella video with my mom, I started understanding that I have masked more than once in my life without realizing it. I didn’t have many friends at my second high school and at one point I had my mom buy me clothes from American Eagle and Hollister because those were the brands almost everyone wore at school and I thought that I’d get more friends if I dressed like them. While it didn’t work, more people talked to me. I was bullied at work years ago, so I now make sure not to do the things that caused me to be bullied. Autistic people are often bullied at school or work. I have tried to hide my anxiety disorder from partners, but that would fail when I experience noticeable anxiety in front of other people. I try not to act weird so I don’t get called weird.

Now that I’m learning about my neurodiverse traits and no longer live with my parents who have denied anything being wrong with me, I want to start unmasking with the goal of not hiding my neurodiverse traits all the time. I want to feel like I can be free to be myself without judgment, though that won’t be completely possible since humans are judgmental. I no longer feel the need to fit in through my clothes since people wear whatever after they finish high school, so that’s one mask I was able to throw away in 2010. However, I still try not to act “weird” because I have been told that people are turned off by me being weird. Being myself has caused guys to not like me (my mom told me that my negativity is what drives men away. Sorry I’m a pessimistic-leaning realist who thinks optimists are stupid). Being myself has social consequences. All I really need to do to occasionally take my “Not Weird Person” mask off is to be around people who like my brand of weirdness, but I don’t do well in social situations and there are barely any online meetup groups that pique my interest.

Autistic people can have a weak sense of self due to the masks and this very well explains me not knowing who I am, so come along in my journey to figure things out as I gain more knowledge about how I fit into the neurodiverse universe.

Self-Reflection · Try Something New 2018

Looking Back on the Try Something New in 2018 Pledge

In this blog, I pledged to try one new thing each month in 2018. The new thing could be trying a new food, doing a new activity, or going someplace new. I have asked my fellow readers and my fiancé to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I told you all what new thing or things I have tried and discussed the barriers that caused me to not try it before.

2018 is over and we are now in 2019. I can now say my wedding is next year! But let’s stay in the present and look at the past in this blog.

Surprisingly, I was able to keep myself accountable for doing something new this month. Yes, there were some days that I only tried one thing new, but it’s something. Starting out, I was doing a lot of new things, which is probably why some months didn’t have many new things. I was able to add a few new foods to add to my somewhat short list of foods I eat.

If I were to pick a favorite thing I tried, it would be joining the choir at my Unitarian Universalist church. It’s mostly men, though. From what I was told, there used to be a lot more women in the choir, but I know two choir members just moved to a different state so they clearly won’t be at the church anymore. It wasn’t a problem before since we were able to recruit more sopranos for last month’s song, but it’s becoming a problem for me now since I can’t sing as high as I’m supposed to because I can only hear the men.

So for 2019, I have decided to do a quarterly decluttering. I’m doing the decluttering as a way to get a head start on getting rid of things I don’t need so I won’t be rushing to do it right before the wedding.

Try Something New 2018

Try Something New: New Things in December

In this blog, I pledged to try one new thing each month in 2018. The new thing could be trying a new food, doing a new activity, or going someplace new. I have asked my fellow readers and my fiancé to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I will tell you all what new thing or things I have tried. I will also discuss the barriers that caused me to not try it before.

Well folks, this is the last Try Something New post. This was fun while it lasted.

My first new thing was joining a choir.

Barriers to joining a choir: I actually wanted to join the children’s choir at my old church, but by the time I quit baton to join the children’s choir, I was about to be too old for the choir, do I became an usher instead. When I was 8 years old, I learned I couldn’t sing after I listened to myself sing using some kind of tube in music class. I still joined chorus in elementary school for 4th and 5th grade since anyone who wanted to be in the chorus could be in the chorus. In middle school, I only did band class because you had to audition for chorus.

Why I joined the choir: There is no choir experience necessary. When I first wanted to try out the church years ago, I wanted to join the choir. Now that I’m a member, I tried it.

I almost didn’t try out the choir. Why? Because during the first exploring membership class, a guy asked if they’d want his horrible singing voice in the choir. One of the people leading the class said no. I also found out that the choir director does private lessons when one parent said her son is taking piano lessons from the choir director. I’m not a very good singer (but singing along to anime years ago improved my singing voice), so I almost didn’t join the choir. During last month’s potluck, I was able to talk to the choir director and found out that most members don’t have formal vocal training. So I decided to try out the choir.

My thoughts on UU choir:

  • I started having fun as soon as we started warm-ups
  • I tell people I’m an alto, but I may actually be the rare female tenor going by everyone singing each part together. Still sang the alto part since I didn’t know women could be on men’s parts (and vice versa. A guy sang soprano for the song Carol of the Bells, though he wasn’t going to sing that high)
  • A week later, the choir (including me) performed Carol of the Bells
  • I have always been a performer, so it’s great to be back into the performing world

I also tried a fancy ham called prosciutto!

Barrier to trying prosciutto: Prosciutto is a ham and I don’t like ham.

Why I tried prosciutto: I didn’t know what it was until I put it on my plate during the appetizer time for a holiday party and when Franklin told me what it was, I didn’t want to put it back on the tray.

My thoughts on prosciutto:

  • It smelled odd
  • It was okay for a few bites
  • It’s ham. Why did I try this? Bad idea, me. But I made up for it by eating all the pepper jack cheese that was there. I love pepper jack cheese.

And to finish things off, I was a guest writer for Black Girl Does Grad School!

There was no barrier to writing the guest post, but I planned to write about my experience in my first semester of grad school. I finally had something to write, but I decided to wait until after I was done with the semester to write it.

My thoughts on being a guest writer:

  • Getting to at least 500 words was the hard part
  • Giving myself time to write my entry helped me to come up with things to add and edit since I was writing during breaks from studying
  • I liked seeing my writing on the internet on a site other than this blog

So that’s it for my 2018 Try Something New pledge. I will soon write up my thoughts on the pledge.