Impulsively Upbeat

All of us have impulses; actions we commit to in an instant. Being diagnosed with a behavioral disorder does not make me an authority on human behavior, but it gives me clarity enough to see patterns in people. Having a mental disorder means one behaves differently from other people. However, everyone’s actions are based on personal motivations.

We all have different impulses. I can’t list all the impulses human beings have, but I can provide a sense of the different ways we react to the world around us.

Expression (Unloading)
Many human beings have a tendency to openly proclaim what is on their collective minds. These reflections can range from the mundane to the all-important issues of existence. So many people divulge their life story to me the moment I give them an opportunity to speak. Silence is golden and I wish they would pay it forward. Some thoughts should stay inside our own heads.

Interaction (Sensory Itch)
Ever wanted to press a button just to see what would happen? Ever told a dumb joke just to hear people giggle? I can’t blame you. We have sight, hearing, and touch for a reason. Our bodies want to mess with the world around us. Human senses yearn to be used. A similar impulse is the urge to perform our talents. Dancers tend to dance. Singers tend to sing. A lot of what we do is simply because we want to play with the toys we’ve been given. It’s human nature to explore the world. You won’t discover what there is to discover without going to see the sights, smell the smells, and taste the tastes for yourself.

Satisfaction (Proving Yourself)
I admit to having gone along with the crowd in the past. I didn’t want to be left out. Most of us are trying to prove we are either superior or equal to each other. I was in an argument with a roommate and he was trying to prove to me I’m not that great. I became defensive and listed off all the bad things he did to prove he was no better than I was. Why do we fight so hard for the opinions of strangers? I suppose we are sometimes motivated by the fear of being seen as a loser.

Nullification (Ain’t No Thang)
A good solution to overcoming our impulses is to do nothing. Doing nothing is not a passive impulse. It is a deliberate and meaningful action. You don’t have to get people back when they tick you off. You don’t have to buy something just because someone else has it. Our impulses usually come from our sense of “unfulfillment” and we try to fix ourselves by giving in to them. I’ve learned to recognize the peace that already exists in my life. I show this by responding to situations with stopping, thinking, and doing what I truly want to do. Many people may look down on my doing nothing. I just smile knowing I have me exactly where I want me.

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Being Social About Media

I love AMC Movie Talk.

They talk about movies. What can be more fun? I had the privilege of having my fan question answered on their show. I admit I have been giddy about having my name mentioned in a Youtube video.

I’ve adored movies because they are fun to talk about. Something is fun for me only if I can share it with people I care about. Luckily, many people enjoy film. They are fun to analyze, predict, and develop. It’s my dream to write original story ideas for film. I want to make stories people will enjoy talking about.

It’s hard to be social about things without common interest. My Facebook page gives me an idea of what resonates with certain people. A status update with a joke will receive a few comments from some of my friends. An inspirational message I post can easily get dozens of people to “like” it. It’s difficult to find a universal interest that appeals to all demographics.

The bottom line is we need stuff to talk about. People won’t add you on Facebook, click on your blog, or view your video if you don’t have something to say. What good is a puppet that doesn’t talk?

The Need to Belong

Are we individuals or are we a part of something greater?

 

No matter how you choose to look at it we all are a part of a group of some sort. Whether formed by borders, creed, or blood we belong to something. We become claimed by different communities simply by being at a certain place at a certain time. I am an American. I am a Meldrum. I am part of the graduating class of 2003. I didn’t have much of a say in these things. Circumstances chose my groups for me.

 

Life has provided plenty of opportunities for me to align myself with different communities of my choosing. I chose to attend Brigham Young University-Idaho for my higher educational needs. The main motivation behind this selection was based on the people I hoped to find. Plenty of other colleges could have given me what I needed, but I wanted more for my social life than others could offer. I felt this school had a type of people I would be familiar working with complemented by new experiences for me to gain from. You know what? I was right.

 

Last week was the first week of summer break for us college students. I was bored so I decided to go watch whatever action flick was playing in our one theater in town. A couple of gals from my church happened to notice me and made a point of sitting right next to me during the movie. Afterwards, we discovered plenty of people we knew happened to be at the movie as well. We all got to talking and someone brought up the idea of going out to eat. I was in the mood for food anyway and it worked out they chose the place I was initially going to get ice cream at. They took forever to get moving so I started out on my own.

 

I was eating my parfait when the entire group finally made it to the place. One of them eventually waved to me to join them at their table. I guess my table wasn’t good enough for them. I squeezed into a tiny little space leftover on the side. The conversation revolved around one guy at the table in particular. He was the one everyone knew. It was initially his decision for everyone to go to this particular restaurant. He made it hard to get a word in during the group conversation. No one considered my thoughts or laughed at my jokes until this one guy approved of it. I just focused on my parfait after a while. The gals I knew would occasionally ask me how I was doing. I’d tell them I was fine.

 

Agonizing Over Organizing Organisms

 

We create communities for the purpose of self-preservation. People come together to meet needs incapable of being met by individuals alone. Relationships, businesses, and nations form because someone decides being alone is not good enough. The person creating the community decides what the organization needs and implements the different components to maintain a working system. Unnecessary components are removed so to maintain efficiency.

 

Communities are living organisms. They’re born, they live, and then they die. Healthy communities will last longer than troubled ones. What makes a community healthy depends on who is filling the different roles within that group. The roles required are based on what the whole group values.

 

“What are We Going to Do Tonight, Brain?”

 

An organism needs a brain. Someone has to call the shots in the group. Whether intentional or not, someone is going to be made the leader of the group. The decision making needs to be made either by an individual over the group or by a select group within the collective. Not everyone should be allowed to have a say in what goes down. Imagine if parents weren’t allowed to make decisions without the consent of their toddler. What if the government had to convince every citizen first on pursuing a course of action before implementing it? Nothing would get done. Every group has its figure of authority.

 

Who gets elected to be leader is based on one criterion: can he or she get the job done? People will ally with those they deem fit for the job. No lingering doubts on the individual’s abilities can be allowed. All of us measure a person’s capabilities differently, but we all can recognize the difference between a strong person and a weak one. The most talented person usually is chosen for the leader. He or she is not necessarily going to be the smartest or the most physically impressive subject. The leader just has to do the work of decision making for the group.

 

I usually pass on the responsibility of leadership. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t like telling people what to do. At the same time, I don’t like people telling me what to do. I would lead if people chose me. However, I am naturally placed in more supporting roles.

 

“They Look Like Big, Good, Strong Hands, Don’t They?”

 

No one person can take on all the different roles in a community. Every gear in the clock needs to have a purpose within the greater framework or else the gear won’t move on its own. Each member is given a separate role that supports the whole. Some are the feet, others are the hands, and some are the eyes. They all contribute differently, but they all fulfill a need.

 

I usually fulfill the role of the entertainment in social settings. It’s not a glamorous role, but it keeps me employed. It answers the question a group naturally asks: why are you here? I’m always good for a laugh.

 

“The Island of Misfit Toys.”

 

Looking for a place to belong is hard work in and of itself. Not everyone has a place carved out for them to fit into. If people don’t see any use for us, then why would they take us in? If you can’t do the work, then what good are you to the group?

 

Most people don’t know about my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. They don’t need to know that to recognize that I am different from other people. Different poses a threat to the unity of any group. I wasn’t invited to join sporting events as a child because people doubted my ability to play well. You won’t see me invited to too many social events these days because people doubt if I can be interesting enough for them.

 

I can understand this reasoning. I don’t go looking for insightful conversation from people who I know can’t speak their minds. And I don’t seek help from people who can barely take care of themselves. However, I feel everyone has a purpose in life. I believe that no one is useless to anyone.

 

“I’m Spartacus!”

 

If you can’t choose between two groups, then create your own. I’ve spent most of my life trying to make other people happy at the expense of my own happiness. He who tries to please everybody ends up pleasing nobody. No one should have to sacrifice their individuality just to gain a little community.

 

I’ve found a new happiness for myself. Everyone is my group. I don’t exclude anyone. Every person who comes my way I try to see the good in them. If I can’t see a use for them, then that means I am failing them and I simply keep trying until I see it. I haven’t given up on anyone yet.

 

We are all equals. On some level, in some way we are all the same. I don’t get to decide who belongs in my world. This is our world. There is room enough for us all. And if there isn’t? I will find room.

Personal Ethical Statement

This is taken from an assignment in my ethics class.

 

I have six central principles that have guided how I live my life. I developed them over a period of 20 years and continue to improve them over time. They are as follows in no particular order:

 

Respect the change we cannot control.

 
All should be respected but not everything should be honored.

 
Having a choice is not a privilege but a responsibility.

 
Allow others to view the world through their own eyes.

 
Differences do not have to lead to conflict.

 
We are allowed to believe in ourselves.

 

I will simplify these principles into simple words for convenience; change, value, choice, truth, love, and identity.

 

I will try to explain these in further detail briefly. The three main ones are change, value, and choice. Change is a constant battle between letting things happen and making things happen. Should we respect the forces acting on us or should we become a controlling force in our own lives. Our happiness depends on finding this balance.

 

Value is important in determining our priorities. We honor what we feel to be of great worth. Measuring this out requires balances unique to each situation. Who is more important in times of war, the wise man or the strong man? That depends on what you value.

 

Choice is tricky because it creates consequences, good or bad. By making a choice we recognize that there are sides to choose. Choosing one side places us in opposition to another. Even refusing to choose contributes to one side of an issue. I stand in awe of the power of the consequences of our choices.

 
The three intermediate principles are truth, love, and identity. Truth is equally as powerful as choice. The thing we have to remember about truth is that we will never have all of it. An infinite universe can only be comprehended in pieces. I view as much of it as I can and then choose to view the rest with either hope or despair. Two people could be looking in the same direction but see different things. I allow people to view the world how they wish. The only thing I won’t accept is people who twist the facts to match their view.

 
Love is essential to creating peace. It is a balance between accepting what is different and shunning that which we perceive as a threat. One has to admit that not all people are good and kind. Enemies do exist. Our love is made real when it is put to the test. I could have called this principle desire, but I felt the word love captured the conflict of the issue better. Conflict is created when what we want stands in opposition to what someone else wants. We all love different things. Finding peace with differences allows us to become a united people.

 
Finally, identity is the foundation for determining what we fight for. Who we are is what we believe ourselves to be. Am I an American? Am I a Mormon? Am I weak? We are all influenced by our culture, our religion, and our families and friends. They all have an opinion on who we are as an individual. How much do we owe them? Who gets to determine who we are? These are all questions based on doubt. No one should get to choose who I am but me. I am an American. I am a Saint. I am strong. I am Joseph Meldrum.

 
It’s hard to choose which principle as being the most important. I would have to say change is the most important principle to understand in our day. So many people try to control the world to make it work for them. And when someone gets circumstances to play out exactly the way they want it to, something will eventually come along to disrupt it and their peace will be destroyed. On the other hand, we all need to work at improving our lives and our circumstances. It’s tough to know when to fight against the current and when to just go with the flow. Sometimes happiness is about letting go and other times it’s about holding on. I am now at peace with the different forces at play in my life. I don’t have to be in control of every aspect of existence to be happy. I don’t have to get everything I want. Still, I will strive to change my life in a positive way.

 
These six principles have been my guide to understanding why people do what they do. They motivated me to enrich my life. They elaborate on the gray areas of the world. The conflict between the different principles grants me deeper insight into what it means to be human. For instance, if we have absolute truth does that mean we don’t really have a choice? Can we be ourselves if we are constantly changing? And we do not necessarily love that which we value.

 
I will provide an example of how love and value may not align. I highly regard Oreo cookies, but I wouldn’t put my life on the line for them. A friend may love me, but not necessarily appreciate what I do for them. I love my mother, but may not do enough to honor her. I love my church, but certainly could do much better at making it a higher priority in my life. And I value what God has done and is doing for me, but I may not open up to Him completely. Fear prevents me from loving something the way I want to. Pride keeps me from valuing something for what it is worth.

 
It is difficult to know which principle to rely on in different situations. All of them potentially have significance on a personal level, a social level, or even a worldwide level. Finding the balance between each has had the most positive impact on my life. The one principle I have struggled with is value. It has become my goal to better myself in this area. Part of me wants to meet the expectations of those I regard highly: my parents, my family, my friends, my church, and my God. I want all of these to value me. It’s hard to do because everyone has different expectations. They each weigh my worth with different balances. What about my expectations? Do I have a say in how much I am worth? I have decided to put myself at a high value. Some people will accuse me of being high minded, but I don’t care. If that feeling of being of worth is not coming from an outside source, then I will do what it takes to remember how much I matter. Our worth is not determined by other people. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I’m just grateful to be alive. Everyone else should be, too.

 
This may not be a perfect system, but it is my system. It’s a part of me. My goal is to be happy. All of these principles bring me closer to it. The most important part is to let people in. Sure, they make things messy. That’s part of the beauty of life. What’s the point of having morals if you can’t make the world a better place for everyone in it?

Impressions on Impressions

Impressed yet?

A class I once took assigned me to find a few people I knew and have them write down ten attributes they saw in me. The people I chose consisted of my best friend, a roommate, and one other person at school. It surprised me how similar their responses were. The first attribute they all wrote down had to deal with intelligence in some way. Other common responses were about kindness, confidence, or about being a gentleman. None of these people knew each other, but they all had the same impression about me.

When I say impression I don’t mean how we appear to each other. Appearances can be deceiving. I’m referring to the affect we have on each other. Leaving an impression on someone creates a change in that person. You won’t make much of an impression on anyone if you don’t make an impact on their lives.

Having a behavioral disorder can make leaving a good impression on others a struggle. Who wants to be best buddies with a guy who has trouble speaking, thinking, learning, feeling, adjusting, behaving, associating, or just plain living? We all want to be with people who make us feel good. No one wants to get stuck with broken goods.

Pity the Fool

A classmate I know has some serious issues. He’s a nice guy and all, but it doesn’t take you more than one minute to get the impression that something is awkward about him. He often invites himself into my conversations with friends quite unceremoniously. He never puts a period at the end of his sentences so that I may get a word in. I’m sure you’ve known people who are like this.

This guy doesn’t hang around with a lot of friends. He tries hard to come off interesting to others. I’ve often asked myself what’s my responsibility towards him when it comes to being his friend. Could I? Yes. Should I? Maybe. Would I? No.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be loving and considerate toward all people. Everyone deserves a listening ear and a helping hand. However, it is my belief you can’t be a true friend to someone you look down on. I’ve had plenty of friends who only associated with me because they felt sorry for me. None of those friendships lasted.

My brother once tried to introduce me to people he knew that were diagnosed with Asperger’s like I am. I told him I wasn’t interested in meeting them. He was taken aback by my response. I didn’t mean to be antisocial. I simply felt meeting perfect strangers based on the idea that we “need each other” would result in nothing more than a pity party. Not my kind of party.

Prima Adonis

My brothers never invited me to hang out with their cool friends when I was younger. I suppose they didn’t think I would leave a good impression. It wasn’t until I started living out on my own that I gained a strong sense of confidence. I decided I need to have complete faith in my own attributes.

What makes us cool is a combination of our abilities, accomplishments, and affluence. If you got it, FLAUNT IT!

Some people would have us all be humble. Why? What benefit is it to me to make myself lesser? It is the responsibility of a man to improve himself in all fields. I want to show people how intelligent I am. I want to prove to the world how good a storywriter I can be. I want to make my parents proud of me. How can I accomplish this without something to show for it?

Let’s be honest, we want to be around people who are amazing in some way. I want the pretty girl in class to notice me. I want the smart people to think I’m interesting. It makes us feel good to be among the elite. You can’t earn these things for free. The payment is confidence in something real. Nobody wants to hang out with a guy who is unsure of himself.

Power Play

Don’t get the wrong impression about me. I’m trying to come off arrogant on purpose. In reality I don’t talk a big talk. Didn’t I say appearances can be deceiving? I just want you all to think about how we come off to each other. I need you to recognize your own feelings about the people you associate with. How do they make you feel? Safe? Wanted?

I’ve told you nothing but the truth about how we treat others. All of the situations I mentioned happen to all of us at some point. Knowing what to do depends on what we are willing to sacrifice.

My mother played basketball when she was in school. One of the girls at her school had trouble playing. None of the other girls wanted to play with her because she wasn’t as good. My mother took time out to help her with her game. She slowly made improvement over time.

We help each other by the impressions we leave on those around us. A hero inspires greatness. A genius inspires thought. A true friend inspires love. I have full confidence that I can be a force for positive change in the world. It all starts with a pioneer. Someone has to be the first to leave the impression of their footprint in the dirt. It shows the others the way to go.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

The enemy approaches. Stand your ground.

A woman once told me that I can’t be friends with everyone. I told her if I’m not friends with everyone it won’t be due to a lack of trying on my part. I can understand why a person wouldn’t want to open up to everyone. What I can’t understand is why people seek to limit their experiences.

People are particular about who they keep company with. That’s understandable. Enemies do exist. I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences. Love and loss define me. It makes sense to have guidelines for whom we choose to let in. How should we go about deciding who makes the cut?

I’m sure all of us have fallen out of touch with old friends. It’s been months since I’ve heard from my pen pal. I’ve removed people from my Facebook friend list who I haven’t spoken to in years. It hurts to say goodbye to people you know. Why would we make friends with those we know we can’t keep? It saves heartache to not let anyone in.

All of us have our own defense mechanisms. We try to protect our fragile hearts from abuse. I’ll provide three examples of how we choose to combat the oncoming threat of human connection.

1. The Loner

You’ll find plenty of loners at my college. A good day for them is spent in front of a laptop. They rarely go outside and don’t make any attempts to meet new people. You’d have to drag them out of their apartments for them to make human contact with anyone.

A little “me” time can be a healthy thing. You have to get away from people every now and then. A loner is one who gorges on alone time. People are not designed to be alone.

2. Selective Isolation

Can you count your friends on your fingers? Personally, I prefer to carry as many as I can in my arms.

Many people choose to get by on just the one friend or maybe two. They will form a tightknit group which doesn’t allow for any new members. The group itself has its own mindset and mentality. The only difference between them and the loners is that they are alone together.

3. Casual Reasoning

Ever had someone tell you they just want to be friends with you? Many people tell me that. I have no idea where they are now.

Keeping things casual maintains a connection with people by way of a weak bond. The bond can be severed any time at either person’s convenience. This method allows you to have the social aspect of a relationship without investing any deeper feelings. You will not have many arguments together because you won’t care all that much about what the other person thinks. When they say goodbye you won’t miss them. Friends will become replaceable things to you. Love will not be sought for nor appreciated.

Armistice

Most of the people we meet are not bad. We are mostly defending ourselves from ordinary men and women. It took only a few bullies at school and a lot of name calling to push me to strengthen my defenses. The problem is that once you’ve become so good at protecting yourself from others you realize you don’t know how to handle being around real friends. What good is a soldier in times of peace?

I was lonely as a child. I became so good at taking care of myself that I failed to learn how to rely on others. Being the only one to build up your self-esteem for so long makes it difficult to let others contribute.

We must not view each other as enemies or threats. A bad experience with a few people does not make the rest of mankind faulty. We risk so much more by not opening up to others. Armor can be so thick it becomes a prison. Instead, we need to go on the offensive. Never stop seeking your next new friend. As for me, I don’t carry a shield anymore. I have already surrendered to those who feel I’m worth fighting for.

People Acting Like People

Take a seat. Let me ask you a few questions.

Getting interviewed is one of the primary functions for those with behavioral disorders. Doctors, psychologists, and therapists; they all get a piece of you. Personally, I always look forward to visiting them. They make me feel like I’m interesting.

The people in charge of social services eventually got a piece of me. I don’t know what they intended to evaluate, but I certainly wanted to make a good impression. Most of the tests they gave me came from previous exercises I had taken to measure IQ. I exceeded the evaluator’s expectations when it came to memory. Long sets of numbers were dictated to see if I could recite them. He ran out of sets after I repeated everything he had on his evaluation sheet. I can even remember the three words he asked me to memorize before the interview began; wing, ocean, and school (in that order).

The last half of the interview took the form of a casual conversation. My likes, dislikes, and talents were discussed. I’m not used to being asked questions about myself. He did like my responses, though. The breadth of my knowledge was made apparent. I had an opinion ready to go on every subject he brought up. I really wanted to impress him.

The evaluator’s report was delivered in a large envelope. His description of my personality was very complimentary and I received high marks in mental ability. It was in the recommendations section where I discovered a less than favorable review. He suggested I should seek employment in a place where I wouldn’t have to work with many people. Where did he get that from?

Bad Behavior

Do you like me? I think I’m an okay guy. I’m definitely a lot better than some people I know. Sure, I make mistakes. Doesn’t everybody, though?

I feel like every person I meet is just another interview. They ask me questions and measure my capacities. An executive decision is made on what to do with me. Sometimes I get a promotion. Most times I’m archived for later.

I try to give everyone a good performance. I eat my vegetables, go to church, and pay my taxes. What am I missing? When I ask friends to describe how I come off to them they either say I’m fine just the way I am or they give me a laundry list of complaints. I’m sure they all mean well.

Our behavior is defined in many different aspects. I will go over three of them: the mental, the social, and the emotional.

Mental Case

Do our brains determine who we are? Thoughts do lead to action. However, we change our minds all the time. How we think can be altered by our surroundings, the substances we take in, or the people we interact with. Is the brain just a mechanism to make our bodies do what we want or does the brain tell us what to do?

Memory is central to why we behave a certain way. We act on what we know. You know how to read because your brain can recall the lessons you’ve been given. Remember who taught you how to count? I can. My earliest memory was of the special education class I took back in kindergarten.

I can remember facts, figures, and films fine. Friends, family, and fun I forget. I cannot recall conversations with loved ones. Most of what occurred back in elementary school is a blur to me. The domestic part of life never stuck in my head. The only days that stand out to me from my early years are Christmas mornings. I can remember all the little details from those holidays. It’s funny what stays with you.

Social Menace

The greatest influence on our behavior is found in our fellowmen. Every example we encounter leaves an impression on us. We say hello because that is what people do. We learn how to act like people from people. Friends teach you how to be friendly. Family teaches you how to be familial.

People come in varieties. Not everyone matches up effortlessly. We choose whom we associate with based on how we view another person’s behavior. Don’t like somebody? Simply wave them away. Don’t like someone’s opinions? Act like they don’t have voices.

I love people. I love everything about them. They can’t be quantified. Each person is unique and ever changing. Why would I avoid them? Let us say I did choose to avoid them. What do I stand to gain from that? Should I count it a blessing when I go through the day without meeting someone new? Is anyone better off alone?

We all need people. Someone out there needs me. I’m not going to get better at working with people from a distance.

Emotional Wreck

How do you feel? Seriously, I want to know how. Where do feelings come from? We can feel either good or bad. The feelings can be either strong or weak. The bottom line is you cannot not feel.

No one can behave perfectly logical. What we do is because we feel like doing it. Feelings are reactions to the world around us. Stimuli will cause us to react either positively or negatively. Why? Because we care. You can’t have feelings for things you don’t care about. We cry when someone’s words hit home with us. We are happy when we see someone we love. Feelings reflect the things we deem important. Strong feelings for the important things, weak feelings for the little stuff.

I’ve been accused of being emotional before. Who isn’t?

The Diagnosis

The way I behave is a result of my experiences and what I’ve gained from them. People made me the way I am today. Not every experience has been pleasant. I’ve learned from the good and the bad and I’m stronger for it. However, it’s hard to get the practice you need when the experiences never come.

I can’t remember one story my parents read to me at night. Can’t recall a time when I spent the whole day with a friend because they just wanted to be with me. When coming home from school I would get excited if I saw my brother’s car because it would mean I might have somebody to talk to that day. I still am taken aback when people begin talking to me because I am unused to it.

I’ve done the best with what I’ve got. I slowly make progress each day. However, things haven’t got much better since kindergarten. People act the same. I could try to avoid people to make things easier for myself. I don’t think I will, though. You see, I recognize souls in need. I know which words make a world of difference to those who feel they might be invisible to the world. Someone needs to be the one to make a positive change. That change is not going to come from a person trying to act like people. It comes from someone who realizes he is someone.