Sunday, April 28, 2013

On Being A Tour Guide With Asperger's

Sometimes my job as a tour guide is really, really tiring.

I work here, giving tours to people interested in history and modern art. I like my job, don't get me wrong - I know I'm lucky to have it since a large number of people with Asperger's struggle to hold down jobs. I just get very, very tired.

I'm in graduate school right now studying to become an archivist. By December of 2014 I should have a Master's of library science - and hopefully, a job as an archivist somewhere. Until then, though, I need to make money any way that I can to support myself, and for the time being, those ways are selling my artwork (which you can now buy online here!) and giving tours to people.

Tours aren't easy. Well, in some ways, tours are very easy - all you have to do is memorize a lot of information and then recite it to people and answer their questions afterwards. The hard part is that they're so intrinsically social that even a few hours on the job leaves me mentally exhausted. I have to keep an eye on everyone I'm talking to, looking for signs that they might be bored or have to leave to go somewhere else. I have to make eye contact with them a lot more than I'm comfortable with. And I can't act like a robot even though I'm giving the same information for what feels like the 100th time. I have to be fun and smile a lot.

Now if you've got me talking about baseball or comedy history or something else I adore, like Top Gear, I'm extremely personable and smile a ton. I also do that when I'm talking with people I know and trust. It gets hard when you have to act all open with people you don't know and you have both Asperger's and social anxiety. 

I know I've overcome a lot of challenges to even have this job, and I'm very proud of myself for making it. I honestly had my doubts that I could do this and somehow I've been doing this for almost a year. Every so often, it just gets a little hard to keep up.

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