By Trevor Pacelli
I may be mildly Autistic, but you know what? I am not hopeless! I have still used what I am good at to achieve success out of life. But how did I come to know my strengths? It all depended on accepting and seeking out challenges through college.
In fall of 2011, I started school at Bellevue College. My plan was to get my AA, then transfer into a four-year university by fall 2013. This first year consisted of job searching and college research. Yet most importantly during this time, I wrote my first book, Six-Word Lessons on Growing up Autistic in May 2012, which is available on Amazon, Kindle and iBooks. It has sold thousands of copies worldwide and appeared in publications such as CNN, Costco Connection and Huffington Post.
Then came sophomore year. Here, I had narrowed down six schools to apply to. I also held a part-time position at my church where I locked up the facility each night. By spring 2013, I made an official decision to transfer to Arizona State University, a conclusion influenced by the large amount of family in that area.
Then came junior year. I had graduated from Bellevue College with a 3.8 GPA and transferred to ASU in fall 2013. I enjoyed the extended family nearby, but I also lived away from my parents for the first time ever, the hardest thing I had ever done at this point. Yet as time passed I found the emotional support I needed. I made some fantastic friendships in a church group, and found phenomenal success in my book promotion, which included a front-page article in the ASU State Press, the university newspaper.
Looking for a summer internship, I sent applications everywhere, including a photographer position at a camp in Asheville, North Carolina, which eventually accepted me. Here, I faced a culture shock that I could not get used to, and I knew I never wanted to go back there. But I still gained further independence and saw entirely new things that expanded my insight on the world and myself.
Now, back to ASU. It was my senior year, and for the first time I shared a living space with other roommates, which offered challenges that forced me to take a stand for once. I also started my movie review blog,TrevorsViewonHollywood.com, which I still run it to this day, and it has since become the best outlet for me to express my passion in film.
Although spring 2015 should technically have been my graduation, credits-wise I needed one more semester to go. So for that summer I had two time commitments: a ministry writing internship at my church and a customer service position at Domino’s pizza. Although Domino’s did not particularly fit my social capacity, it did help me to learn one thing: I enjoy making food.
My church internship quickly became the best thing I ever did in college, as it affixed me into a meaningful community where I felt accepted, all while pursuing work that fit my needs. Then I graduated December 2015, which meant I had to find full-time work.
Here was where my parents came to save the day: using their business (Consetta Group), they hired me to work for them utilizing my developed passions. Now, I write film reviews, generate movie suggestions, promote Pacelli Publishing’s book series, and photograph events and portraits (TrevorPacelliPhotography.com).
The thing that I most learned from my four-and-a-half years of college was not what I read in my fifty-dollar textbooks. College taught me that if you go out past your comfort zone and try something big, no matter how it turns out, it will turn you into a better you. So in the words of Shakira, “Try everything!”
Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.