Okay, so maybe it’s not mythical that autistic folks are under-employed. I’ve been working jobs far beneath myself for years – ever since I got back to the States in 1987 after living in Europe for a couple of years.
I’ve had all sorts of low-level jobs that were “far beneath me”. One of my bosses even asked me, onetime, why I was working for him, when I was capable of so much more.
And all my life, my parents have wailed and gnashed their teeth, that I wasn’t using my talents more. “When will you stop wasting your talents!” they cried. Oh, the wringing of hands…
Here’s the thing, though. If I spend all my time and energy “living up to my potential”, I’m just gonna ruin my life workin’ for the man. Professional life, beholden to an employer, or an industry for that matter, using up every last bit of energy and focus for the sake of some employer…? Yah, no thanks.
I’m not saying we’re not under-employed. I’m saying it’s not a tragedy. At least, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of other things we’d rather be doing with our time.
I have other things I’d rather be doing.
Like studying things that have nothing to do with anything commercially viable. The 12th Century Western European Renaissance. Heraldry. Obscure symbolism. Esoterica. Even a little bit o’ alchemy, here and there. Women mystics of the Middle Ages. Certain kinds of snakes. Or what ever else I find interesting, at any given point in time.
Nobody’s going to pay me big bucks to study those things. Even if I did write a fantabulous monograph thinga-majiggie, it won’t pay the bills. And I’d rather be 3/4 employed and have a bunch of energy left over to ply my own trades, than be fully employed and 100% exhausted at the end of every day.
Sorry, there’s just not enough of me to go ’round.
So, yeah. I’ve been underemployed my entire life. I still am. But I’m here. And I’m having a wonderful time. For the most part, anyway.
Tonight, I’m just tired. But my life is my own.