My Beliefs are Wildly Different Now

Looking back on your history of beliefs.

At the Second Church of Odyssey you'll find different ways of expressing your beliefs, finding prayer support or being encouraged through regular devotionals.
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Steve
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My Beliefs are Wildly Different Now

Post by Steve »

It's been a hot minute since I've been on the board, and I'm really interested in some of the changes I've seen. Pronouns in bios! No outright hateful rhetoric about what media Christians should be consuming! It's really different than when I joined the ToO 10 years ago.

That got me thinking about the differences in my own beliefs between then and now. 15 year old me was a sheltered homeschooler who thought he was better than everybody else. I would have described my limited little worldview as "evangelical, conservative Christian." I grew up being taught that "You can't be a democrat and also be a Christian." (Actual quote from my mother.) Thus, I was conservative. I was firmly anti-LGBTQIA+, even to believing they had no humanity. We lived in a lower-income neighborhood and I was taught that people with darker skin than me were automatically wired to commit more crimes than us pale folk. I grew up in the Evangelical Free Church of America and was taught that us and Baptists were the only ones who really got it right. Methodists? Sinners. Lutherans? Lazy. Catholics? Hypocrites. Presbyterians? Evil wolves in sheep's clothing. I was taught that the Bible was inerrant (only the NIV or ESV translations), and that everything in it applied directly to me, a Protestant in middle America. The firm hand of Purity Culture had a tight grip on me. I judged women who didn't dress "modestly" because THEY were causing me to stumble. Sex was practically a swear word to me. I didn't dare date anyone; after all- I'd kissed dating goodbye. Some people I knew asked questions about Christianity. Some expressed doubts. I judged them. Idiots. They didn't know as much about God as me. They listened to teachers who disagreed with what I believed, which I believed was sin. Listening to people who don't believe in God? Why would you risk losing your faith? When I went off to college, I spent so many weeks trying to find "a good, bibliaclly-sound church" as my parents said to do. I never found one that met their expectations. Of course my college was a bible college, so I had to dual major in what I actually wanted to learn and Biblical Studies. By the end of my freshman year, I was so burnt out on bible classes, chapels, and just spending all my time judging people for being worse Christians than me.

24 year old me thinks a little differently. I ask a lot more questions now. I have a lot of doubts, and I'm okay with that. I actually am working at a church now. It's a Lutheran church, which I don't think I ever could have done before. They preach some things I disagree with, but again, I have questions and doubts, and I think it's healthy to listen to people you disagree with. My politics and worldview have completely changed. I'm much more liberal now. I've seen how the conservative agenda tears people down. It ruins lives. It actively murders people. I'm fully LGBTQIA+ affirming. Having several friends come out in recent years, all I want is to love them for who they are and be an ally for their rights. I'm actively working to de-program the racism I grew up in. I'm always trying to listen and learn to learn to love better. As for purity culture, that's weird for me, since I'm married now. It's not really an issue for me so much. It's a little weird, because it did warp my views at the beginning of my marriage, somewhat. Everything still felt like sin, even though it was "okay" now. I don't believe I know everything anymore. I don't believe the English bible is accurate. I don't believe I've been taught how to read it right. I don't believe God loves America more than anywhere else. At this point, all I can firmly say that Jesus Christ is love and calls us to love Him and love other people. That's all I can do now.

Have your beliefs changed in the last several years? I'd love to hear your stories or even discuss my own.
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Post by radgeek »

I'm different in that most in that I already had experience with a same-sex partner before joining.

The biggest changes are actually on my views of one's emotional status while dating. This is something that the Bible is silent on but I was of the belief that emotional availability started at engagement. Boyfriends were to be viewed as expendable and not to be emotionally attached to so my emotional purity was kept. THIS ISN'T A BIBLICAL THING!!!

Especially since I didn't get too close to women either because I feared their reaction if they discovered my past.
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Post by jelly »

Steve, thanks so much for sharing this. The list of former (and current!) ToO members whose stories share many striking similarities to yours is impressively long! You're in truly fantastic company.
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Post by Jonathan »

So I'm in the crowd whose beliefs have changed from growing up til now, though I landed in a wildly different place than you have. That said,
Steve wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:08 pmThe firm hand of Purity Culture had a tight grip on me. I judged women who didn't dress "modestly" because THEY were causing me to stumble. Sex was practically a swear word to me. I didn't dare date anyone; after all- I'd kissed dating goodbye.

...

As for purity culture, that's weird for me, since I'm married now. It's not really an issue for me so much. It's a little weird, because it did warp my views at the beginning of my marriage, somewhat
As someone who has followed Josh Harris extensively (and who didn't really buy into it in the first place), I'm curious about this. You say that it affected your views of marriage, even after getting married, but I'm curious if his influence played any kind of a role in the change in your overall beliefs?

edit--and just out of curiosity as a Lutheran, which denomination is the church in that you work for?
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Post by The Top Crusader »

Jonathan wrote: Fri Jul 16, 2021 7:00 pm

edit--and just out of curiosity as a Lutheran, which denomination is the church in that you work for?
The lazy one, I bet.

But yeah good post, Steve. \:D/

I was never quite as... far right...? as most of the community here seemed to be. It was always weird because in real life I'd always been like a far right extremist, but on here in comparison to the fundamentalist homeschoolers I was like ultra liberal, in the earlier days before there was more diversity. So I wasn't starting from the same place as a lot of people. But also I was ALREADY an old man when I got on here, like in my early 20's, so I had aged past some things that others were still in the middle of. Over a number of years a lot of my more hard-line stance on a lot of things softened. I mean, even if my own PERSONAL VIEW OF HOW I LIVE MY LIFE is the same, I don't feel the need to brush anyone off as TERRIBLE SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD because of their lifestyle. I mean we are all terrible sinners, but totes obvs I mean in the sense of their sin being so far worse than mine.

The more recent changes were more political. Again, softened stances over time, but for a long while I looked at things as "okay I disagree with the republicans on X and Y but still overall I am ALL IN!!!!" for whatever reason. And then Donald Trump. And it basically brought to the surface a lot of evil that you could kind of wave away as a tiny minority of the party--but as it turns out, the numbers are flopped and its really a tiny minority that has some semblance of a moral compass. That doesn't mean I'm ALL IN on the other side, either, but being able to look at things more objectively now, I would say there are more aspects on the left that are more in tune with Christ's teachings than there really are on the right--although of course they are all on both sides a BUNCH OF CROOKS!!!! :x

Abortion was a big sticking point, even though I've always been more on the "yeah I'm against it but here's a ten page list of exceptions," but statistically speaking, the democrats do more to prevent abortions by both educating on avoiding pregnancies as well as offering financial assistance to those who end up pregnant and can't afford it, than republicans do by yelling about CONSERVATIVE JUDGES that have no interest in touching Roe V Wade, and the occasional banning of a weird rare abortion that never happens anyway unless the mother is about to implode or something.
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Post by Steve »

Jonathan wrote: Fri Jul 16, 2021 7:00 pm As someone who has followed Josh Harris extensively (and who didn't really buy into it in the first place), I'm curious about this. You say that it affected your views of marriage, even after getting married, but I'm curious if his influence played any kind of a role in the change in your overall beliefs?

edit--and just out of curiosity as a Lutheran, which denomination is the church in that you work for?
Great questions!

1) I started deconstructing before Josh Harris publicly renounced I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I'm sure he has good intentions, but I don't put a lot of stock in what he says. Currently, he's offering a $275 course for other people deconstructing, which feels like a total grift to me. Again, I think he's well-intentioned, but he's someone who has no business having a public platform.

2) LCMC. Is that the lazy one? I grew up Evangelical Free Church of America so I really don't know my stuff about Lutheranism. I just work here lol.
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Post by Jonathan »

Steve wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 10:36 am
Jonathan wrote: Fri Jul 16, 2021 7:00 pm As someone who has followed Josh Harris extensively (and who didn't really buy into it in the first place), I'm curious about this. You say that it affected your views of marriage, even after getting married, but I'm curious if his influence played any kind of a role in the change in your overall beliefs?

edit--and just out of curiosity as a Lutheran, which denomination is the church in that you work for?
Great questions!

1) I started deconstructing before Josh Harris publicly renounced I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I'm sure he has good intentions, but I don't put a lot of stock in what he says. Currently, he's offering a $275 course for other people deconstructing, which feels like a total grift to me. Again, I think he's well-intentioned, but he's someone who has no business having a public platform.

2) LCMC. Is that the lazy one? I grew up Evangelical Free Church of America so I really don't know my stuff about Lutheranism. I just work here lol.
I think he's well intentioned too. His is a tragic story, imo.

Not familiar with the LCMC at all. Only vaguely heard about it.
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Post by King Butter Turtle »

Well hey everybody. :wave: It's been a while. Looking around at various parts of the ToO yesterday and today has been quite nostalgic. I was not expecting to see so many familiar names. I guess I kind of assumed this site was maybe 80% short-term users, with continual generations phasing in and out, with the other 20% being long-term members. (sort of like AIO characters, I guess - various groupings of kid characters through the years who were in the same world but didn't necessarily overlap much - while Whit, Eugene, Connie, Tom and Bernard were always there throughout) But, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it seems that that ratio here is about the opposite. (although overall activity certainly doesn't seem to be what it used to)

Even more surprising is the number of people who I knew as very conservative, awkward, nerdy, Evangelical homeschool kids who seem to have… ‘moved on’, if you will, in various ways - politically, theologically, culturally... maybe even socially. Granted, I say this from a few hours of perusing - I don’t want to assume anything about people’s current or past belief systems but, the overall sense I get is that quite a few have changed pretty substantially. (For instance, I was quite taken aback by American Eagle’s pronouns in his signature - lol)

Well, for what it’s worth, you can mark me among that list. I was reading a few old threads from CCDS and was quite appalled by some of the ridiculous things I had said. (Sorry to anyone I was a jerk to back then) Part of growing up, I suppose… when you’re taught certain things from a young age, for some people, you sort of have to take some time arguing for them before you realize how silly they are.

It’s kind of a unique camaraderie, I guess - commonality with others whose paths brought them through (or from) the same 90s Evangelical culture that AIO was so correlated with. Maybe that's why so many have stayed active here. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an in-betweener - certainly don't identify or resonate with Evangelicalism anymore (or even less so the GOP) but, at the same time, I don't really identify with mainline Protestantism either (or even less so the Democratic Party). In part, because I haven't done a total 180 (I'm still pro-life, for example and support limited government and fiscal responsibility - and still not a fan of Halloween ;) ) but also because I'm still grateful for the way I grew up. I wouldn't be comfortable in a church that believed my sexual orientation was sinful but, at the same time, I'm not cool with liberal churches who scoff at those who hold traditional values either, because those are my parents, my siblings, my childhood Sunday School teachers… my favorite radio drama. Sure, I chose to move on from many (but certainly not all) of those beliefs about God, the Bible, society, etc. but I still have been positively impacted by many people who still hold them.

Of course, I'm over-generalizing - I know this forum has always had at least some members representing a variety of ages, political persuasions and theologies but it seems that maybe many of us have quite a specific thing in common - growing up in an Adventures in Odyssey/early VeggieTales/I Kissed Dating Goodbye/Dare to Share/Awana/Dr. Dobson/WWJD/Meet me at the Pole/DC Talk/Christian bookstores/'Bible-based education' generation and appreciating that background but moving on to a… maybe more inclusive worldview and more loving picture of God, in part by way of a message board full of nerdy peers. ;)
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Post by jelly »

KBT! Seeing your name and reading all of this makes me super happy. \:D/
King Butter Turtle wrote: Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:56 pm It’s kind of a unique camaraderie, I guess - commonality with others whose paths brought them through (or from) the same 90s Evangelical culture that AIO was so correlated with. Maybe that's why so many have stayed active here.
So well put.
King Butter Turtle wrote: Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:56 pm and still not a fan of Halloween ;) )
:lol:
King Butter Turtle wrote: Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:56 pm I wouldn't be comfortable in a church that believed my sexual orientation was sinful but, at the same time, I'm not cool with liberal churches who scoff at those who hold traditional values either
While denomination-hopping seven or so years ago, I experienced a similar off-putness from some of the more vocally progressive churches that "scoff" as you say at the more conservative traditions that have hurt minority groups in the past. I remember thinking: in theory, I should be really excited that there's this option to still remain apart of a Church and not feel like I have to hide my own socially progressive convictions... but also, an element of reverence felt like it was missing. The part of the church that grapples with things like fasting, discipline, the straight and narrow path; it's hard to take any of that seriously if your church is just so in-step with pop culture that it's barely distinguishable.

And generally, the way you're speaking to the difficult and ongoing task of trying to unglue the positive parts of your formative upbringing from the negative ones... I feel that strongly.

@Termite had some really profound thoughts on this exact struggle just a couple of years ago in the Homeschoolers SCB faction. Some strong therapeutic musings that really stuck with me. Worth digging up if you haven't already!
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Post by King Butter Turtle »

I was never in that faction... I went to public school... :mope:
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Post by Pound Foolish »

Same, guys, same. I definitely differ from a lot of aio values nowadays. I relate to most of what's been said to one degree or another. I'm still going through my thoughts, trying to form an opinion, but I definitely think being gay is ok, that trans rights are human rights, and feminism is for everyone (including me). I'm fairly free of purity culture, I'm wholeheartedly sex-positive. It's been a wild ride seeing people evolve and become so much more liberal and seeing some people on the SS come out, seeing everyone welcoming them... Man, it was beautiful and exciting and overwhelming. It's exciting to see the same thing happening here. 11th Dr argued me out of a lot of my more conservative positions, Sam and company changed my heart just by being who they are. So I'm much farther left than I was. However, now that so many of us agree with each other more or less on most things, it seems we've just packed our bags and left the aio sites. We were all so friendly, it seemed like we were so deeply bonded, and now we've all gone our different ways. I wonder if there will be another resurgence or if this is really it. We've grown up, we've changed our values, and aio doesn't really fit in with how we see the real world anymore, and now aio boards aren't really part of our lives. We've found ourselves. We've got our own lives now. Maybe it's for the best.
Last edited by Pound Foolish on Mon Jun 13, 2022 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Termite »

King Butter Turtle wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:26 pm I was never in that faction... I went to public school... :mope:
I had a notification that I was tagged by Jelly. . .is it weird to quote myself??

There's quite a bit, so here you are if you want to read:
Termite wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:18 pm We've all grown up a bit, haven't we?

Person, I have a long answer for you, but first off: :hug:

Re: social handicapped - what a mood. I honestly don't think I would have been able to talk to people as well as I can now if I didn't have the ToO here to help me learn communication. God, it was so rough back in the day xD Even now I don't always feel like I can chat and small talk with people as well as others can, but then it also depends on the person to whom I'm speaking. (and no one seems to think I'm odd [what little they know...]) Anyway, that's a bit off-topic, so I digress.

First: home schooling does bring about a certain social isolation, so I think your feelings in that regard are probably justified. I don't know if you had a lot of co-ops or sports, youth group meetings, etc. growing up, but even then - it is a totally different atmosphere than being with peers five days a week for twelve years. I would suggest accepting that as a fact rather than just trying to shake it (which will only frustrate you more), and then move forward from there.

Person, you can definitely be grateful to your parents for doing the best they could and frustrated with what they kept you from at the same time. Balance it out, but don't try to force yourself to push down those feelings any longer. I can guarantee that's why they're rising up now; you are human, and you can only take so much. Our generation is the last where this aspect of mental health was ignored for us - we each have to choose to allow ourselves to work through and heal up some of these things. Bitterness isn't the answer, but neither is ignoring something or explaining it away.

And don't just take it from me. My therapist talked a lot about the division of feelings. There is no need to feel guilty for the frustration and bitterness you feel. Yes, your parents might have done they best they could, but yes - they also could have done better.

Grace and expectation. Forgiveness and fact. Gratitude and regret. We can learn from the example of our parents how to operate on a higher level without discrediting the love they had for us. It's possible, and it's something I have walked through in recent years. To love someone is not to pretend that everything they did/do is okay, even if on paper everything looks fantastic, as you referenced.

(slight sidenote) Unfortunately, the whole American-based super-conservative homeschooling environment has issues, so I totally understand this. I was just talking about this earlier with my host. For crying out loud, I am STILL learning things about American history that were whitewashed and rose-colored in my old school curriculum. It's so frustrating to think of the blindness and control that was a part of a lot of my education, and you are totally right to be frustrated by the blind viewpoints that so often accompanied our generation of home schooled learning.

I definitely do with there had been better curriculum options, though. It's something my mother and I have discussed, and her final answer was she used the best there possible, basically. She has recognized the areas that weren't good and acknowledged them to me (and to Aeva, I think, in some cases), as well as in that entire culture of thought and attitude, as well. Maybe it could be a future discussion you have with your parents once you have settled some things about it internally and are ready to have that conversation.

That being said, personally (having been home schooled and knowing myself), I think I would have suffered more if I had been in "regular" school. I went part-time to one so that I could play high school soccer, and it was awful. I really had a difficult time, as I was so much in my own world and just couldn't fit in with high school life. Maybe if I had been in school from an earlier age it would have been easier, but I think that is part of my nature more than anything. In that regard, I can't exactly empathize, but I do understand from where you are coming with the FOMO thing. I had some of that as well but then ended up hating it the couple times I did the "normal" thing, so :anxious: heh.

But that does not mean you would have hated it or had the same feelings of bitterness regarding wanting to be home schooled. I can only speak from my own personality and character in this particular matter, because #introvert.

However, I will be bluntly honest in saying this: In exclusion to extreme, extenuating circumstances that would force my hand, I won't be homeschooling my future children.

All that being said, here is your permission to have all the feelings without discrediting them based on rationalization to avoid blaming your parents.

(that's a sentence, and I'm not even I'm sure I understand it, so just let me know if it sounds bonkers, and I'll attempt to rephrase) (and hopefully, all this rambling makes sense and is helpful in some way)
Aaaaand a response because it was sort of connected:
Termite wrote: Wed May 20, 2020 9:04 amEveryone's "coming to terms" experience is different. Recognizing/admitting there's something to work through is step one \:D/

That would be SO awkward (regarding a potential conversation with parentals relating to this aforementioned topic + apologies), and I do not blame you at all for not knowing what to do :anxious: my conversations came about more organically or from my side, so it wasn't too terrible. A future conversation may become helpful/necessary, or it may not. It definitely ought not be forced though, as you said. That won't work.

Rabbit trail all you want, my friend. It's quite a healthy thing to do once you get rolling and beginning to work through things. I would say yes, go get some therapy. It doesn't need to be for the rest of your life, or because you think something is "wrong" with you; it can definitely help you work through and process this. So much so. Mine certainly did! She even offered to mediate a hard conversation I (didn't end up having, oops) with my father, which may be an option for you IF you decide that's what you need.

I'm glad I could be of some help. The ToO has always been a safe place, and I'm glad we have it, too. (heh)
tl;dr : therapy rocks, y'all \:D/ Especially when learning to navigate between the person we used to be and whom we are today.

IDK if the individual I was responding to wants their identity/dialogue shared, but I think there's enough context for understanding.

More directly related to the thread to stay on topic: my beliefs about sexuality, traditionally conservative politics, etc. have definitely changed, but the integrity of my faith in Christ has not.

Pound Foolish wrote: Sun Apr 24, 2022 11:19 pmHowever, now that so many of us agree with each other more or less on most things, it seems we've just packed our bags in left the aio sites. We were all so friendly, it seemed like we were so deeply bonded, and now we've all gone our different ways. I wonder if there will be another resurgence of if this is really it. We've grown up, we've changed our values, and aio doesn't really fit in with how we see the real world anymore, and now aio boards aren't really part of our lives. We've found ourselves. We've got our own lives now. Maybe it's for the best.
For me, it was never about AIO being a part of my life. I joined this board to be able to talk to one of my IRL friends on the internet before I was allowed social media, hah. Then it became so much more and was a safe haven of growth and an outlet for this highly introverted homeschooler.

But life just happens. I moved away from home after high school, and the entire focus of my life changed. Part of the reason *I* ditched the ToO was because of an awful relationship wherein my life had to be as "clean" as possible. Internet friends were a no-go on that, so :roll: . While that season of my life was relatively short-lived, I just didn't come back. I had a lot of personal crɐp I needed to sort through and learn not to be ashamed about as well as a looot of things I needed to grow up in separate from this place. Which was highly beneficial for me personally.

And I was busy, lol. I still am busy, and I don't *need* the ToO the way I did when I was younger, if that makes sense? I will forever be grateful for the role this site had in my middle/high school years and the community it gave me, but it's not something on which I am reliant anymore. That being said, I do *miss* it, so we'll see. I may try to pop on more often when I think about it \:D/
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Post by SirWhit »

I joined the board as a (maybe) 13-year old kid, homeschooled, etc. etc.

Still remember getting into debates, testing different methods and means of communication, taking on leadership, and more as a result of this place — I'm not sure why I find myself coming back every month or two, but I just can't seem to totally let it go. Debating and discussing a lot of these topics really forced me to grow up (in a way) and accept that a lot of my fundamental assumptions about my faith and identity were incorrect. I grew up Seventh-Day Adventist, and there has been a LOT to unpack from growing up in that way. I'm in college now, and though I'm still figuring stuff out, I'm very much further to the left, very much agnostic or perhaps a little spiritual, and very much not who I was back during my homeschooled upbringing. All I believe in, really, is the power of other people and the power of community — and this is one of the communities that I really look back on fondly, despite the good and bad things about it.

I do miss all of the old AIO friends (and frenemies?) —I do seem to remember fighting with Pound Foolish a lot, and folks like sam, eleventh doctor, T.S., et. al. were formative in the way I developed and matured. I hope everyone's doing well!
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Post by Mountain_Girl »

I have definitely changed since I first got on here. I was around 14/15 years old and now I am 33. I have come to learn how to think for myself, doing research and reading up on what is going on around me and how God sees everything, instead of just going with what I was raised with. I have learned over the years that it is okay to have your own beliefs and ways of doing things, especially when you become an adult and aren't under your parents anymore. There are actually three main things I have learned that everyone needs to know.

First of all, I have learned you need to listen more to God than anything. Yes, the Bible is to teach and guide us, but we also have to remember that it is also written by man so the writers did put their two cents into everything. We need to be discerning, especially with the Bible being in such a different time than today and the only way to do that is going to God directly.

Secondly, You have to do for yourself, not do for others. I am not talking about things like giving to the poor, helping those in need. I am talking about doing for you what you need to do to stay happy and healthy. I recently learned this when I decided to go back to therapy and finally advocate for myself. I always knew there was something (not wrong, but also not right) with me that I needed figure out. I always have had a hard time with making and breaking habits, keeping schedules, doing certain things, etc. and when I watched other people go on in life it made me feel like I was crazy, lazy and all sorts of stuff. But, whenever I would mention my problems to people I would get "that is normal", "take it to God", etc. but it didn't feel normal and I always felt like I needed to look into it, even after talking to God about it. But, I am a people pleaser and when I was told that I shouldn't look into it, that I just need to work harder on myself, I listened and kept growing more and more frustrated and feeling more and more crazy. So, last year I finally took the plunge and asked my psychologist and therapist to evaluated me for ADHD and Autism. I was diagnosed with ADHD right away, but sadly they won't evaluate me for Autism (they only do it through the schools here). My therapist was really helpful and did a small eval for me, even though she isn't the person to do it, and she said I could be high functioning. So, with her help I am on a plan to teach me to deal with how my brain works. I feel free, I feel heard and I feel relief.

Lastly, you need to always, ALWAYS, look at both sides and not just the one. You need to research and listen to each story, getting the full idea of what is going on. And this isn't just about politics, but also for other areas. You can't say something about another religion before you know about it, you might be wrong about what you said. You need to know about that culture, about that ethnicity, about that workplace, etc. So many people listen to only one side of everything, but in this day and age we can't not be biased. Being biased just leads to bitterness and loneliness.
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