Trevor Pacelli is the author of Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic: 100 Lessons to Understand How Autistic People See Life (Published:May 6, 2012 ) He writes about film and autism at Trevor’s View on Hollywood.
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 was devoted to 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. It is now available on Amazon and for the Kindle. It has sold thousands of copies worldwide and appeared in publications such as CNN and Huffington Post.
Then came sophomore year. Here, I had narrowed down six schools that I preferred 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 on where to transfer to: Arizona State University, a conclusion influenced largely by the large amount of family in that area.
Then came junior year. I graduated from Bellevue College with a 3.8 GPA, and I 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 had phenomenal success in my book promotion, which included a front-page article in the ASU State Press.
Since I was keeping my eyes open for a summer internship at this time, 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 become accustomed 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 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 to this day and has since become the best outlet for me to express my passion for film.
Although spring 2015 should technically have been my graduation, credits-wise I needed one more semester. So throughout the 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 had ever done 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 the passions I had developed. Now, I work for them writing reviews, generating movie suggestions, promoting Pacelli Publishing’s book series, and photographing 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 $50.00 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!”
This article was originally published in Washington Autism Advocacy.