Monday, May 23, 2016

Talking Myself Up Career-Wise Out Of Fear

It has become evident to me lately that during the periods that I'm unemployed I live in fear of the world. I leave the house significantly less, wallow much more in depression, and constantly worry about money. Oftentimes, I cry myself to sleep and lay there at night feeling worthless.

I logically know I'm not worthless, of course. I'm a human being and I have value just because I exist and I'm not mean to other people. It's often hard to see that in a country where your skills are often passed over just because you don't always make eye contact with people.

I had a job interview three weeks ago today, and by all accounts it went quite well. The problem is that now I'm waiting to hear back, and the headhunter working as the go-between hasn't spoken to me in over a week. I haven't been rejected yet, but not knowing where I stand reminds me of a more recent job where I thought I nailed the interview and wasn't told that I wasn't hired for over two months (it took me contacting them back multiple times). When I'm in limbo and applying for jobs and waiting to hear back, my anxiety tends to take over. I worry that people search for me and learn about me and see things like this blog and decide that I'm worthless without really knowing me. I worry that they're making a judgment before getting to know me and seeing what I'm capable of.

I mean, let's take a look at this for a second:
  • I have a Master's degree. I got my B.A. in history in four years - the normal length of time for an American college program - despite having a horrible mental breakdown in the middle of it. I then went on to get my M.S. in library science with a focus in archival studies and had no trouble whatsoever academically at any point. I'm intellectually very capable of working in an academic setting, be it a library, a museum, or somewhere else.
  • Archives are quiet places. You don't have to talk to as many people as you do in other places. This makes them a great setting for someone like me to work - I can talk to people, but not too many people that I get tired and overwhelmed.
  • I regularly take initiative and start creative projects and do my level best to see them through until life gets in the way. I start things when I've noticed that nobody else has started them and believe they should be done.
  • I'm very creative and innovative, on that note.
  • I'm great with old technology! I actively take an interest in playing with it and I can adapt to pretty much any computer interface really quickly, and I get really excited when I get to work with analog materials. Old playback machines, old computers, and other sorts of things just make me really happy - yet another benefit to my profession.
  • I'm a very focused worker. People everywhere I've ever worked have always been astounded by my work ethic and just how much I can get done in any span of time. I'm highly productive and yet very detail-oriented so I'm less likely to make mistakes - I'm not rushing, I'm just focused.
  • I'm highly confident in my ability to learn new things really quickly. I'm a sponge. If you teach me how to use something hands-on, I'll never forget how to do it for the rest of my life.
I'm perfectly capable of performing any archival job assigned to me. I've just become so accustomed to rejection either via my resume or after the interview stage that I sometimes settle into this idea that I'll never have any sort of job ever again at all, and whilst that's unlikely to be true I genuinely fear not being able to work in my profession despite being incredibly good at doing so by all accounts so far. I've never had anyone tell me I'm not good at being an archivist. It's come to me naturally. It's what I'm meant to do. So why isn't anyone letting me do it?

I genuinely fear it's because people find out I'm autistic and let their misguided ideas of what that means lead them to a judgment about me before they even find out what I'm about. It's not fair at all, and although there are numerous companies now hiring autistic people to do various jobs I haven't found a fit for myself yet. I dread that I never will, and so I write this blog to advocate for people like myself to make sure that nobody who comes after me will have to deal with the same prejudice I do with regards to being employed. I want every autistic person after me to have an easier time finding employment in a world not made for us because we all deserve the same quality of life as everyone else. I'm going to do my level best to make sure we achieve that.

Here I am talking about this in video form:


  1. thank you for sharing this. I work as a recruiter and have autism. Really hit home with lots of folks I talk to, including my partner.
    on twitter I'm @aspergersgirls

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this piece on Twitter! I just followed you there - I'm @1863_project.