I was once told by a therapist that I had PDD-NOS. I gave her a very hard time to the point where I stopped going because I refused to believe that I had that. I hated her for what she said about me. I didn't want to carry the label of having autism because it travels with you wherever you go. But, as time went on, I got more and more convinced that I do, in fact, have a mild form of autism. Since the minute I was introduced to Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand's ideas, I agreed with her a hundred percent. But how can I be an independent person when I can't. I tried to do things myself, but I always end up needing someone's help. I feel cheated out of having a satisfying life. I know that someone's answer would be that I should not let irrational thoughts like this stop me from pursuing my goals, but that won't help me. I don't enjoy anything. I look at different career paths, and all I see are miserable people living day in and day out. I sometimes doubt the Objectivist way because I have no passion for anything. Yeah, I love politics and writing, but I'm never going to be a politician, and it's extremely unlikely that I'll ever get a job in journalism. My mom tells me writing is a hobby.
I feel angry because I see people with goals toward a career they'll enjoy and I don't. They're going to be independent people, and I'm not because I'm autistic.
One thing to keep in mind about IQ is that it measures intelligence only in a very narrow sense. I've often said that I don't think Stanford and Binet (the people who came up with the idea for IQ) were very bright themselves. It's possible to be extremely bright in ways that are not measured by the test. For example, is your ability to create great art or music measured by IQ? Your ability to make friends? Your ability to produce? Emotional or physical skills? No.
Also, IQ says nothing about your character, your morality, how hard you work, and many other factors that contribute to being a happy and successful person.
My advice: leave IQ testing to the psychology wonks, and focus instead on things in your life that you can influence and control. We all have limits. So what? That's just life. Whether it's money or time or physical or mental, the path to happiness includes doing the best we can with what we've got.
Our brains and minds possess much more ability than can be collapsed into a single score. Judging yourself by this standard is accepting a very dangerous premise. At least, a very self-limiting one. Who are they to tell you what your strengths, abilities, and future may be?
I encourage you to watch these two videos to learn and reflect more about what is important in finding your abilities, and what might be necessary to achieve happiness. I believe Sir Ken Robinson talks about many aspects of intelligence and ability that will speak to you.
Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?
TEDxBloomington - Shawn Achor - "The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M
answered Feb 05 '12 at 11:14
Due to modern technology, the amount of physical efforts that one must put in to be physically independent is much less today than it was pre-industrial revolution. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about not being able to be independent physically and focus first on having an independent mind. The first thing that is required for an independent mind is to go after what you want in a manner that does not violate the rights of others.
My daughter is mildly autistic and this is what I intend to teach her. While it's important that she recognizes reality and realize that there may be SPECIFIC THINGS that she cannot achieve, just like I recognize that I can never be a NFL quarterback, I will NEVER EVER tell her that she won't be successful at life. Your mother telling you that you won't be successful is really her telling herself that you won't be successful so that she doesn't get her hopes up. Please do not take her defensive/negative perspective as your own. You are so much better than that.
answered Feb 15 '12 at 15:13
Good answers all. I wanted to address one other aspect of the the question: determinism vs. free will.
It is true that certain people will never be able to do certain things as well as other people. We all have different levels of ability. It has been pointed out that IQ tests only measure certain abilities, and that one can be great at things missed by such tests. I wholeheartedly agree.
However, consider a hypothetical test that really does capture all aptitude. In that case, people would still all be different, and some people would have less aptitude than others. People with low aptitude would not be able to do things as well as people with high aptitude, and might not be able to do some things at all.
What implications does this have for free will? It means that you are not free to choose any result you would like. In other words, a person of low aptitude may not be free to choose to be a rocket scientist--it is an option that is just not open to him. But there always will be some options available for him upon which he can exercise his free will. Thus he can freely choose between being an artist or an electrician, for example (or whatever options his ability leaves open for him).
Free will, as Objectivism understands it, is not the ability to choose anything you would like to choose. Indeed, freewill, at its core, is the freedom to choose to focus one's mind on reality, or not to focus. This option is available to all persons, whether they have low aptitude or high--they can choose to focus their mind on reality.
I like the following analogy (although it is not perfect): consider a chalkboard on a large wall; your are told that you may write on the chalkboard, but that you cannot write anywhere else on the wall. Are your choices constrained? Yes, you cannot write in certain places. Does that mean you have no freedom of choice? No, certainly not. You can choose to write anything, in any manner, anywhere on the chalkboard. You still have endless choices within your control, even if certain choices are excluded from your control.
Furthermore, consider the hypothetical person who has maximum aptitude--he is the best at everything. Even he cannot do anything he wants to do. He cannot use his mind-powers to teleport to Mars, for example. Nobody is free to choose anything they can imagine, or even anything that another person might be able to choose.
As for how you feel about the fact that you cannot do as much as others seem able to do, I suggest that you reconsider what it is about life that makes one happy. Choosing, pursuing, and obtaining your values is a great way to fill your life with happiness. By selecting values you literally cannot obtain, you doom yourself to unhappiness. If you choose values that are within your reach (that are on your chalkboard, so to speak), then you will feel much more optimistic about the possibility of happiness. Obviously, one should not set one's sights too low for fear of choosing something out of their reach. Being realistic does not mean choosing the easiest option. It does mean focusing on the facts and being honest with oneself when judging what is possible. You cannot ask more from yourself. Once you select rational goals, you can focus on what you can do, and ignore what you cannot do.
The questioner (whom I understand from his other postings to be a 19-year-old living at home and working part-time at his mother's insistence in addition to attending college) puts his concerns as follows:
I have not really ever performed well in school. I am just starting to realize what I want to do for a career, and I want to improve my grades.... I find it horrifying to think that my life is never going to be what I want to make of it.... If I truly wish to turn my life around, and I show consistent improvement in my grades, is it still possible to get into a good school with a nice scholarship?"
The inconsistency between needing "to get into a good school" and already taking college classes needs to be clarified. But assuming the questioner is genuinely seeking helpful advice, here is mine.
First, try being more selfish, i.e, more self-centered, i.e., more consistently focused on your own interests, preferences, and core skill areas for further development. Then work to develop your skills to the point where you can qualify for a better job than the one you already have. Even after graduating from school, keep striving to find areas where you can improve your skill set, and keep working to accomplish it. Sooner or later, you'll reach a point where you can live on your own in financial independence from your parents, with all the additional freedom of action that comes with self-sufficiency and marketable job skills.
It won't necessarily make you rich and famous. It won't necessarily make you #1 in any kind of competition. But don't worry about all that. Be selfish -- self-centered, concerned with your own interests -- not unduly induced into living up to others' standards (including your parents' expectations, unless you are still residing in their home).
If you are willing to stay with an existing school that has a perfectly adequate curriculum to offer, it's not clear why you would need a scholarship -- unless, perhaps, you hope to get into a better school when you're truly ready, one that is more expensive to attend. In that case, there are no guarantees of obtaining a scholarship. You probably wouldn't ever be able to qualify for a merit-based scholarship, judging by what you've described about your academic record. But there are also need-based scholarships (most often government funded) that you may be able to demonstrate sufficient "need" to qualify for. (Be sure to check out "Government Grants and Scholarships" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon if you're concerned about the propriety of accepting government money. Your parents have probably paid plenty in taxes over the years, and you have, too, if you have significant income from your job.)
Above all, be very wary of setting standards for yourself that are simply too high. Set lesser goals first, and work to achieve them. Go after bigger goals only after you've built up a track record of success at lesser ones. Surely you'll be able to find a suitable niche for yourself in the working world if you approach it realistically (and selfishly) at every step of the way.
(Incidentally, I've noticed that this questioner seems to like writing. Some of his formulations are almost poetic. Perhaps a career in a field like journalism would be appealing to him -- looking out at the world and writing about it.)
answered Feb 08 '12 at 01:58
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