When you graduate from high school, there’s a lot of emphasis on independence. The focus was always held on life skills like being able to drive, navigating post-secondary systems, and how to live alone.

When I first went to college, I was told that I wouldn’t even make it the first semester – because I wasn’t “independent enough.”

I didn’t check all the boxes that were expected by my age. Things like knowing how to drive, making friends, or understanding personal safety? The things that other people seemed to do so easily, I struggled hard – and I ended up in some very rough situations because of it.

My developmental profile has always been uneven, a common trait for a lot of us autistics.

A photo of a large tabby cat curled up in a floor, surrounded by boxes and old suitcases. This photo was taken when I first moved into an apartment and slept on the floor.

A lot of the “adulting” skills I’ve learned have been formed over time and circumstance.

But most of all, these skills were forged through interdependence.

  • Loved ones who patiently sat with me as I learned how to navigate campus and those typical “adulting” skills.
  • People who helped me move from place to place, and taught me how to handle aspects of dorm/apartment living.
  • Those who brought me dinner on holidays that I would have otherwise spent alone.
  • Friends who guided me through scary situations, and those who taught me ways to keep myself safe.
  • Those who helped me figure out support systems, and the amazing direct support professionals who provide them.

Without these people, I would not be here – let alone have been able to graduate from a university.

We might like to think of ourselves as “completely self-made,” but honestly?

I don’t think it’s quite possible. In some capacity, everyone relies on someone else.

It’s not a moral failing to need help or supports, and it’s okay if things take more time for you to understand or do.

That’s what community is for.

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