The mythical tragedy of #autistic under-employment

Grid pattern with red and blue and gray and blackOkay, 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.

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8 thoughts on “The mythical tragedy of #autistic under-employment

    1. VisualVox

      Oh, man, if I could go to part-time, that would be So Sweet! I have to find work that pays better, per hour, so I can do that. The whole go-to-work-and-be-around-people thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, that’s where I get most of my social interaction, but it takes a lot out of me. Gotta find a balance.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. VisualVox

        It is, indeed. I keep trying to figure out how to monetize what I do. Surely, there must be a way… There’s got to be. We just haven’t figured it out, yet.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. It’s just as big a problem for NTs. No one should have to give all their time to “the man” just for a decent living wage. But between the lines of every media article about how stressed and overworked people are these days is the simple fact of being heavily in debt for things they’ve been persuaded they need. Credit card debt is out of sight, and people still can’t seem to see the relationship between wanting all those shiny gadgets and the fact that they’re working their butts off to cover credit card charges.

    You’re doing what’s right for you, and it’s a model more people should take a close look at.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Thanks very much. Yes, I think I may be in better shape, logistically speaking, as well as in terms of my own mental health, than many of my “normal” peers. A lot of them really labor under this ever gathering cloud of worry and concern, pumping all of their energy and money into supporting their children, especially in terms of college costs, without any real guarantee that any of it is going to work. I have been forced to really think creatively about my later years, and I’ve reached the conclusion that I would never have enough money to afford the level of life style that is peddled in the media, anyway, so I might as well just relax and figure things out as I go. I am concerned that in my later years I will run out of money, as well as other options, but I can’t really worry about it. And in any case, I’m sure the world is going to be a very different place in another 20 years or so.I won’t be the only one who has to come up with creative solutions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was shamed for ages for not working in the field i had studied. As if studying something for years guaranteed hat you’d be “a good fit” or that the field in general didn’t turn out to suck all the energy out of you. I tried, in several places and countries. And got to know some of the most rude, unpleasant, overrated sourpusses that I don’t want to turn like. Found something else i fit better into and enjoyed.
    First when trying to get a job as an aspie… interviews and trying to fake in to be enough NT can be a big barrier. So if you in the end get what you can, then all these “you are not living all your potential”… riiight. Sort of like anytime radically changing what field you work in.
    I’d love some paid part time gigs at some point. Full time drains too much. I also want it to be in something I’m passionate about and don’t need to explain or justify to anyone if i use more or different accessibility accommodations than others. Limited exposure to people would be nice too (instead of being surrounded by e.g. an office full of women, not a good fit)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Oh yeah, I definitely agree. Full-time is so exhausting. But at this point, I really don’t have a choice. I really need to find that way to make twice the money for half the effort. It’s a goal.

      Liked by 2 people

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