One of the unexpected ways that knowing I’m autistic has helped me…

door hanging in mid-air beside a dried up dead tree
It all seems so surreal, sometimes…

… is resetting my expectations for what I’m actually capable of doing.

For years I have acted as though I am just as capable as the next neurotypical person of negotiating job terms, salary, and all sorts of different details to go along with carving your space out of the world around you.

Now, though, I realize just how impaired I am in that respect.

I don’t know how to negotiate pay properly. I don’t know how to be proactive and put on a strong showing all the time. I don’t instinctively put my best foot forward and showcase my talents and abilities just like every-NT-body else. I don’t naturally blow my own trumpet, so to speak.

The funny thing is, those are not things I actually want to be good at. They seem vaccuous and foreign to me. Like a formal dress-up suit that’s 2 sizes too small — but unless I’m “dressed” in it, I won’t be allowed into the party, so to speak.

Thus, I am inherently at a disadvantage when it comes to salary, job negotiations, advancement, career ladder climbing, the whole shooting match.

And it has dragged me down terribly for so many years.

I can’t even begin to tell you how badly I have thought of myself because I couldn’t do the things that I thought I could.

If only I had simply known, from the start, and come to terms with those things…

If only I’d realized  I’m at a real disadvantage…

If I had simply realized just how foreign that whole world is to me, and that no amount of practicing and no amount of pep-talk and no amount of motivation is going to get me to gravitate to those patterns of behavior…

I could’ve just saved myself a whole lot of time and hassle. I could’ve saved myself the anguish of dealing with those job changes that were supposed to lift me up in the world, but just ended up a repeat performance of my impairments, albeit in a slightly different way.

I could’ve spared myself all of those goddamn interviews, all the fucking screenings, all the pathetic excuses for bids for advancement that I embarked on over the years.

I could’ve saved myself the hassle of updating my damn’ resume every other year and talking to recruiters – on the fucking phone – about crap positions they wanted to sell me.

I could’ve spared myself all of those lousy miserable sessions talking to smooth-talking head hunters who did a fantastic job of talking circles around me.

I could’ve saved myself the pain and dread and horror of seeing one attempt at advancement after another fail, fall flat on its face, or backfire on me, to the point where I wished that I’ve never even tried.

If I had only known just how impaired I am, I could have made peace with the fact that I’m not at the head of the pack of my generation in ways that the present mainstream values. Nor should I bother even trying to get there in the standard-issue way. The ways I have are foreign and often unwelcome to others, but they’re my way. And they work for me. I could have just settled into doing the things that do come naturally to me, that are in my “wheelhouse”… things I am extremely talented at… instead of chasing after the waste of time limitations imposed on me by everybody else’s version of success.

Good Lord, if I’d only come to terms with being autistic early on in my so-called career, I could actually have enjoyed myself, all these decades, instead of always pushing myself to some neurotypical ideal, and then beating myself up for not achieving it.

What a colossal waste of time it’s been. What a goddamn fucking waste of time. And I’m done. I’m just over it. I’ve been knocking around on Planet Earth for over half a century, and I’ve had it.

It’s time to just enjoy myself. Do what I do. Forget about the whole getting-ahead business. I couldn’t manage it, if I tried. And I’m sick of trying.

But behind my privacy screens… there’s a whole other world waiting.

One that loves me and makes room for me.

That door, please.

I’ll take that door.

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7 thoughts on “One of the unexpected ways that knowing I’m autistic has helped me…

  1. This, so much. If I’d known I was autistic, I would never have taken this job, which is hard to parse, even for neurotypicals, and might have been spared at least some of the godawful past few years of loss and self-recrimination, transition and isolation that followed. I rehomed my dog, ended my marriage, sold my house, burned bridges, lost any self confidence I’d ever had.

    Or maybe I needed to go through something this cataclysmic to get to the place where I could actually name what was going on with me. I needed that big of a sledgehammer.

    I’m hoping I’ve finally reached something closer to equilibrium, and it sounds like you’re heading there, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      Ugh. Sounds like a real slog… sorry you had to go through all that. But maybe it is for the best. We pay a pretty high price, at times, for self-knowledge. Nowadays, I feel like my main ambition is to get the hell away from the high-pressure job that will probably not take me anywhere, anyway, because it’s so connected male / NT-oriented. Folks at the top are openly sexist, which might be their way of keeping people like me out, and part of me feels like I should push their proverbial envelope.

      But for what?

      Seriously. For what?

      Like

      1. Good question.

        I was offered a different job. It paid more, and the work might even have been more suited to my skill set, but it would have required a 40 minute commute to a cube farm in the suburbs. Right now my job is less than a mile from my house and I have my own office. After all the transition I’ve dealt with over the past couple of years, I was frankly terrified that a change like that would bring on another long-term breakdown, and decided that even a suboptimal steady state would be less risky for me, at least in the short to medium term.

        So now I view my job as a game or sport that I am trying to get better at. I’ll never be a corporate bigwig, but I never wanted that anyway. If I can help my clients get what they need, I’m okay with it.

        Liked by 1 person

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