Posted in Burnout, Self-Care

Wiggling Past Worry: Autistic Resilience in Adversity

I’ve been told that being Autistic is kind of like having some anxiety and some depression at all times, but otherwise by itself it’s fine.

You’re anxious because of the constant stress to fit into this world not designed for us, and you’re depressed because this is just “normal” for you to be in a highly stressed state all of the time.

And the thing of it is, the anxiety and depression are connected to real, verifiable incidents.  We’re not making things up in our head about how the world treats us and how it hurts us to be out in public, even though we might want to be out of the house.  It is, objectively harder for us.

But, you know, we keep going.  This is status quo for us.  It’s never going to fully go away, and we learn how to mitigate the worst of it by changing our behaviors and/or medications, depending o the severity of symptoms and whether or not we are able to change our behaviors.

We generally have to work, for example, and work is a constant stressor, particularly when it takes places outside the house (as is the thought of interviewing and looking for work, etc.).

But you know what’s interesting about us?

Despite the constant anxiety and depression, we are freaking resilient people, especially if we have the right people around us, affirming us for what we are good at doing.

I’m feeling a lot better right now about the work world.  I just needed some time to let the pain out.

First, a fantastic position that screams “wow, that’s an Aspie job” came up at a high level Catholic office within driving distance from me.  It combines research and teaching and librarianship.  I have experience in all of those areas.  It’s about taking divergent data and messing around with it and trying to predict the future.  There is some teaching, some research, some listening to peope and helping them come to consensus through asking some useful questions.  The first and only guy to do this job so far is retiring after doing this gig for about forty years and loving it.  I’ve already had an initial “pass through” and someone from the organization will contact me next week to talk about next steps.

I love this guy already, though.  He not only was the address to which my resume was sent.  I said I would be excited to meet him in person, based on the article written about him in the local Catholic paper about his retirement.

He replied with gratitude, but humility and made a joke that only geeky Catholics would probably get.  I laughed at it and told my husband, who also laughed.

I feel good about that job now, if the current person in it is at least geeky, but maybe is even Autistic.  The job, as I said, screams Autistic person.

The second position is the one I mentioned before, a lateral move to another Catholic school, but one in much better shape.  Sure, it’s going to need help (what Catholic school doesn’t?), but there’s time to pace and learn about it before having to dive in and FIX ALL THE THINGS immediately.  Apparently Father is open to talking to me about that and very interested in my Spanish-speaking skills.

That principal job also has many plusses.  I feel at home with the other principals in my general area, and am starting to really feel valued as a human, which is sometimes tricky for people to do because we are so different.  Beyond that, there are some people in place (including the guy vacating the job who is actually a member of the parish, so he’ll still be around) to help me to get the lay of the land.  We have time enough for me to pop over there sometimes and feel at home in the new space, and (as I said) I’d keep working with the local principals around me with whom I get along pretty well.

Among these local principal types, I don’t feel less; just different.  I’m okay with that.

I feel qualified to do both jobs, really, which is unusual.  I feel like God is calling me to explore both, and that there is a better-than-average chance of being asked to take both jobs because I know people who can vouch for me with the just-right credentials.

I can even jump back into the university program with the Ed.D., and make that degree work for me in either path; I just research different things.  The women in that program were ubersupportive, too, and it would be nice to jump back in, because I enjoyed talking with them.

I feel like the question then becomes, do I want to do one job or another?

Of course, like an Autistic, I’m putting the cart before the horse here.

But I feel so much better now, I guess I don’t care.  Two possibilities before the year is even out is a good sign.

And if neither of these seem right, there will be others.

Thanks for journeying with me.

One thought on “Wiggling Past Worry: Autistic Resilience in Adversity

  1. That’s great! Having moved from classroom teacher to school librarian, I have found that I enjoy the balance of teaching and solitary activities. Given that this position also includes research, it sounds like a dream. I’m so glad that you have good options.

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