GUEST POST: What is wrong with being different?

NOTE from author Jeremiah Swisher: “Overall, I wrote this to show others how I feel and look at life. This blog post is to help people understand others from a different point of view–it is not meant to offend anyone.”

Often times, people hang out with groups of people in which they feel most comfortable with.  A thing that’s so great in life is when no two people are alike.

However from my experience, it’s fun getting to know different people with different interests and personalities.  But then again, I never really technically belonged to a group of people.

In general, I tend to have a different perspective on things. Just because I’m different, doesn’t mean I’m a creepy person to hang out with.  I just have different interests and enjoy talking to people that are different. It’s fun getting different perspectives on things in life.

I wished that I was “normal”, in which I would be defined as being the majority; at least I could fit in with having a common interest.  But I quickly learned that being different is a good thing, because if I was the same like everyone else, life would get rather boring.

When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with autism.

I was one in ten thousand at the time for being born in 1990 to get that label. I was showing signs of delays rather quickly. One of the strangest things that my mom noticed was that she could put me on a towel outside, and I wouldn’t move for hours. My grandfather was the first to notice, and he told my Mom, “There is something wrong with this child.”

I look back and wonder, what is wrong being different?

Luckily, I was able to receive services from the government in a fast enough matter to overcome a lot of my disability for having autism. I was celebrating my abilities instead.

Throughout life, I wasn’t always this accepting. One of the things that I overcame was the idea of being  uncomfortable around people that are LGBT.  But by being in more diverse environments, I quickly learned that people are different in different ways.  Someone doesn’t have to have a disability to be different. People have different preferences.

Maybe I’m used to a lot of friends liking Coke, as I like Coke soda brands.  But if someone likes Pepsi instead Coke, what is wrong with someone having different preferences than you?   You’re not living their life, and they aren’t affecting you with their interests.

Another grudge that I got over was getting used to hanging around people that are from different cultures.  It’s unfortunate to say, but often times there still are people that don’t want to hang out with people that are from different backgrounds.  Personally, I take it from a different approach: I judge someone by the way they act verses judging someone by the color of their skin.  Just because someone has a different skin tone doesn’t mean you have don’t have anything in common with them.

When I spent my time with diverse groups of people, I find that I have a lot more similarities verses differences. I remember when I went on this Civil Rights Trip that UW-Whitewater hosts; I was talking to some of the people on the trip—their life stories were fascinating.   It was nice getting out of Wisconsin and meeting new groups of people.

I believe that it is important for majority and minority groups to come and work together. If everyone was included and worked together, we could get a lot more done. From experience, it often makes things in life a lot more productive when people have different backgrounds and personalities.

I argue and stand with the importance of diversity.

Instead of hanging out with the same people, try talking to someone new this semester.

-JS

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4 thoughts on “GUEST POST: What is wrong with being different?

  1. Well said! I beleive it is a “gift” to be able to share with many who want to know what it is like living with Autism. You have much to offer as we can only learn so much about it in a book. You show us a side of Autism that we don’t understand any other way but by your explaining why you say or do the things you do. Some then say that is being weird….Mature people who bother to take the time to learn, to listen soon appreciate the value in your logic, and only then can see it as you just “being different”.

    You have much to offer Jeremiah! Much more than some of those who dare to think they are normal…lol

  2. Jeremiah.

    We have had a few conversations, at school, over this past year and I have come to the conclusion that you are one of the bravest people I have ever met.

    To my knowledge, I have not met anyone who has Autism, but you break the supposed “stereotype” of what a person is like, who has a disability. I see you everywhere, you talk to everyone, and you are involved in everything. You definitely live life to the fullest and don´t let anything hold you back.

    That is why I admire you. And kudos on writing a post about it. Amazing! 🙂

  3. Jeremiah,

    When I first got to Whitewater (in 03) my roommate and I were the only people on campus diagnosed with autism. And all I wanted was to be normal.Later came to appreciate being different–and went through college much the same way you are now. It’s been three years since I graduated and eight years since I was a freshman here–and look at how much has happened since then. There will be days when you don’t seen much happening–but when those days come I want you to keep going. You are changing the world for the better. Simply by living.

  4. I think it’s one of those things in where it’s good being different. Maybe you can all provide me your contact information. I always look for more friends that are like me with autism but I also look for friends in general as I’m never too picky on whose my friend, unless they treat me like crap. I know yesterday I felt a bit offended when I was talking with this one guy because he says I’ll hang out with you but at 12 bucks an hour. I basically fought with him in a nice way and says what friend charges you money and he says well if you really need me to show you around DC it’ll be 12 bucks (unless you really need me) because I’m really busy today. I mean I don’t plan on texting this guy back because no friend EVER charges a friend money to hang out with him or her because that’s not a true friend at all. And for the record what is “normal” I realize it’s a button on the washing machine, however I define normal as being the majority and if you don’t fit in with the majorities ideas and interests, your basically screwed. Honestly it shouldn’t be that way because I think diversity is important and by 2050 we will be in a huge melting pot. I think everyone whether different preferences, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, has something to offer to the table. When you are working a company it’s important to have people that are well deversified and good at different things. If you put people in areas in where they are really good at that something. Then your maximizing company production and potentical and there is a lot of companies that still don’t realize that. They figure oh we just hired 100 manufacturing workers so we’ll just put them anywhere on the assembly line. In reality I argue that people aren’t robots and it’s important once again to put people on a line in where they are good at. So maybe I’m really good at assembing candles but I’m not the best at making body wash while my partner Johnny is really good at making body wash but is terrible at making candles. I think if people would realize in what areas people with disabilities were good at and able to do instead of thinking about the negative grudge in what they can’t do. We could progress further as society. One of the biggest hot disability topics right now is Medicaid. A vast majority of people including myself are advocating to stop cuts to Medicaid. A couple ideas that I brought up was either providing universal health care to make costs a lot more inexpensive or providing people with disabilties more job opportunties and in 2014 they will have insurance as they would be covered under Obama’s healthcare reform bill. Basically if you get a job they’ll have to in most cases provide you insurance so then at least many people with disabilties therefore won’t need Medicaid so then the saves more money rather then cutting because less recipients are on Medicaid. Also many people think cutting is the right answer but it’s not. If you cut peoples insurance your basically waiting until they get really sick. So if I have a leg that’s infected and I can’t see a doctor. It’s honestly apparently cheaper to treat my problem when I have to cut off my leg instead of seeing the doctor when I have an infected leg. (It’s actually more expensive but I’m providing a governmental perspective apparently) Of course one of my major beliefs is that I don’t believe in hurting competition by regulating insurance companies as I believe they should come to their own terms. If you have universal health care it’s kind of like having public and private schools but instead with insurance companies. If you have universal health care instead of people receiving Medicaid. The cost for everyone to have insurance would actually be substantically lower since everyone through their taxes is putting money into the same pot instead of various different pots of insurance companies as they do right now. When you put your money into the same pot it reduces your variable but also your fixed costs making insurance a lot lower in cost then it is right now. And if you have public health care, it’ll force private health care insurances to provide better services then the public otherwise they’ll be out of business and you don’t need governmental regulation to put on private insurances because if ppl view them as corrupt, they’ll be out of a job. Of course you have the argument of crappy health care service and long waiting lines for universal health care. However it sparks up more competition at least on the private health care insurances to offer better services otherwise if they can’t offer any better deals verses the government they will be right out of a job. Also for longer waiting lines the government I think should offer a program like in the military where if you go to college you can get a chunk of your bill paid off when your done. I know they do that for the national service where if you sign something on the dotted line and serve for x amount of time? You can at least get part of your college paid off. I think the reason why a lot of people may not want to become doctors is because it’s a lot of work however if the government provides more incentives. You’ll have a lot more people going to college in order to become doctors so you’ll have less of a “waiting line” effect. But those are just my ideas though for the government. It’s easier said then done though.

    ~Jeremiah

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