I think I’m going to pause job-hunting for a bit, or at least scale it down. My new job will probably only last two or three months, so I do need to keep looking, but it’s not such an imminent thing that I’m willing/able to apply for jobs I’m less likely to want or get. So, for the moment I’m not applying for a very user-facing public library job that would have been hard with autism and social anxiety. I’m not sure what I’m doing about the cataloguing job at the institution where I did disastrously in the interview and exam for a similar job back in 2018.


I spent an hour trying to work on my novel. I proof-read half a chapter or so, but did not write much that was new. I got distracted a lot and I probably felt too depressed to do much that was useful – I’m not sure whether I made the right decision about not expanding some passages or cutting others. My brain is just not functioning today and I don’t know why, but I’m certainly less productive today than I was on Friday. Maybe I’m burnt out after a busy Friday and “peopling” yesterday (on Zoom rather than in person, but that can be more stressful). I’m now halfway through the second draft in terms of chapters, but probably much less than halfway in terms of time and work, as I know the latter chapters need a lot of redrafting to fix plot and character problems.


I wanted to go for a run, but my knee was hurting for a bit, so I went for a walk, but tried to walk further than usual, about five kilometres.

I did about forty-five minutes of Torah study; I wanted to do more, but I ended up going to my shul‘s (synagogue’s) Annual General Meeting on Zoom and felt I had to draw a line. I was in two minds about going to this given that I felt down, but PIMOJ is the Better Angel of My Nature and suggested I should go. I watched it without my webcam on, which is discouraged, but I did not feel up to being seen or having my room seen; plus, this way I could listen with one ear while eating dinner or working on other things. I don’t really like long-winded speeches at meetings; I’ve already noted the “Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it yet” aspect of meetings that drives me crazy.

There was a lot of praise for people who have helped the community in different ways, which is absolutely correct, but I always feel, “Well, I can’t help, there’s nothing I can do.” When I was at Oxford, someone actually got really annoyed with me for refusing to go on the Jewish Society (JSoc) committee. My feeling was that the JSoc was a social group to enable Jews to meet and socialise (and date) rather than a religious society and that I knew nothing about running a social group. Thus spake undiagnosed autism and social anxiety. This person got really annoyed with me though and felt I was being selfish in taking from the society and not giving back (actually, I wasn’t taking that much as I hardly attended any events, but that’s another question). I drew on this for my novel too. Of course, shul brings up feelings of religious inadequacy compared with other people, which I didn’t have so much at Oxford. On Zoom there is also the “I can see everyone my age has a lovely house and I live in my parents’ second bedroom” inadequacy feeling.

Then they started talking about financial donations, which weren’t an issue at university where we were all impoverished students, but which now set me aside from people with successful jobs.

Then the internet, which had been ropey for the first hour of the meeting completely packed up (I’ve been having internet trouble again on my laptop lately). I did eventually manage to log back in on my phone, which has a better connection, but I was feeling even less engaged.

There was some stuff about finances and fees that panicked me and I need to look into.

I guess my overall impression of the AGM was personal inadequacy and something approaching awe for mentally healthy neurotypicals who are able (a) to do stuff to help the community and (b) stay interested and engaged for the whole meeting. To be honest, if they were able to sit through the finance presentation and ask pertinent questions, they beat me (yes, I know probably a huge chunk of the community are accountants).

The meeting is still ongoing as of 10.10pm, but I think I’m going to have to call it a night or my head will explode and I won’t be able to sleep.


I don’t know why I feel depressed today. I’m worried about getting COVID on the commute to my new job or to volunteering. I’m worried about performing badly in the new job and letting my friend down. I’m worried about sharing an office all day with someone (is he going to expect me to talk? To eat lunch together? I like to read on my lunch break…). I guess some of it is wanting to move on with my life (career, writing, PIMOJ) and feeling constrained by external factors (mental health and autism, financial situation and more), which is frustrating. I wonder if I will ever achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. I do know that whether I build a career as a writer or a librarian or something else, it’s going to take years; likewise, getting married will take years, even if PIMOJ is The One, and sometimes that time scale feels very daunting. How am I going to do anything with my life if it takes years just to get to the start? I know, I have started already, but it’s hard to see what I’ve achieved so far. Even on a smaller scale, I don’t like waiting to start the new job; I want to dive in and get started, so that’s another cause of anxiety and depression.

I guess more prosaically I miss PIMOJ. Unlike my previous relationships, I think we communicate better in person than online, which is probably good overall, but bad during COVID. It’s a real shame we can’t meet in person very often. I think we are both serious about this relationship and want to move things forward, but are being held back, partly by COVID, but also by other things going on in each of our lives, like my autism and job situation and some things in PIMOJ’s life. In terms of feeling bad, there’s also some loneliness and touch hunger too today, and not knowing when that will change.


Joe Biden’s middle name is ‘Robinette.’ I’m not quite sure how I avoided knowing that until today. I have a weird fascination with the middle names of US Presidents, which are often very unusual, at least from a British point of view. I’m guessing that some Americans still do the Victorian thing, which my grandparents did with my uncle, of giving the mother’s maiden surname to the first son as a middle name.

22 thoughts on “Feeling Slightly Useless

  1. I would be super depressed if I started comparing myself to other people because there is just no end to that train of thought. I think this is why religious ritual would often get me down. It gave me something visible that either I could judge myself or judge others by. But if man looks on the outward appearance of things but God looks on the heart and you don’t have a microscope to see others hearts you just have to be authentically you. Compared to Isaac in the Bible though who got married at 40 you are really rushing things, lol. The words of Elihu “God puts limits on a man’s hands that he might see God’s work.” My sermonette aside though I hope you get to see each other soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. To be honest, realistically, I’m not likely to be married before forty.

      I try not to compare, but it’s not always easy, especially as Orthodox Judaism is in many ways a very outward-focused religion, or (perhaps better) religious culture (I would say ritual-focused, but it’s not always technically ritual).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the outward thing is pointing to an inward reality that is pure gold. It would be unfortunate and even tragic to be distracted by the outward thing and miss the inward thing that gives life. A person can have outward Jewish practice yet a heart that is rooted in Amalek if this is forgotten.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. You most certainly do have an authentic heart. You might not have a perfect heart (none of us do) but you have an authentic heart. And it will only grow better by focusing on what matters. You don’t need to go to meetings that are meaningless to you or run Jewish groups at university just because other people think you should. God is not impressed by that sort of stuff. Unfortunately people will judge and compare. They have no idea what you are carrying. Bearing their judgement can be your service to God. Doing what they say ,to be liked, is not Gods will. I get it – it sucks not being liked. I can’t think of one in the Tanakh right now but in Christianity there is a verse that says “Who are you to judge the servant of God? Before His own Master he stands or falls.” This is so true with autism because we cannot be comparing ourselves to society’s baseless standards. I do things all the time I don’t want to because I know God wants me to. But I refuse to do things that other people want me to do that I don’t want to do.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thank you for saying I have an authentic heart, that matters to me more than pretty much anything.

              In terms of meetings and doing things at university, these are things that I did, or felt I should have done, because I felt it was important to do them, not just because other people wanted me to do them. I guess it’s because my family places a lot of value on communal involvement. It’s hard to feel that I can be doing my share if I’m not doing what my parents/grandparents/brother-in-law/etc. did or are doing.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I get it for sure. My parents were always like “Go out! See people!” And really I wanted to but what was hindering me was that I couldn’t do it the way they did. I couldn’t sit around and make small talk. I needed interact in the context of something that was meaningful to me. I think I figured out an hour ago how to summarize what again I am rambling about – we compare ourselves to others and engage in competition when our goal is the perfection that is summed up as fame, wealth, power etc. We can break out of this when our goal is perfect love for our fellowman instead. We won’t ever attain this type of perfection but it’s the right direction to move in. I don’t ask “Is this going to make me as good as or better then others?” I ask “Does this make someone else’s life better?” You have to be free to find your own quirky way to love people. Okay, end of sermon,lol.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved that line about everything being said but not everyone having said it.
    You’re judging yourself way harsher than others would. I don’t- well so far as I know- have autism and I wouldn’t be able to sit through the meeting. Definitely not about finances!!!
    Have you ever read The Highly Sensitive Person?
    One of the best things the MBSR course focused on was not judging. Self compassion. And self acceptance.
    You’re doing awesometasticly and don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you otherwise.
    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for not judging me! I probably am judging myself harshly; 8pm is quite late to start a three hour meeting! I think I am getting better at not judging myself overall, last night was just hard.

      I haven’t read The Highly Sensitive Person. I think there is some overlap between HSPs and people on the autism spectrum.

      Thanks for saying I’m doing “awesometasticly”.


  3. So I must admit that I am the most self-judgmental person (and admittedly, some of that carries over to judging other people) you will ever meet. I will now offer you a long comment of unsolicited advice that I will admit I am not always good at following:

    1) Virtual backgrounds! I will never take a video call without one because in spite of being married and having a job, I have a lousy living situation (100% the result of my own choices; do not pity me). Go to a free stock photo site and pick out a photo to use as a new background.

    2) If you don’t feel like doing #1, turn off your video. If this is discouraged, blame your internet.

    3) If you don’t want to look at other people’s videos, join the call by phone. You can always blame your internet.

    4) Remember that there is a lot that the videos of your congregants/peers are not showing. Some of those people could be house-poor, in jobs they hate/are a bad fit/unstable, in marriages/families that look fine on the outside, but in reality are dysfunctional. I don’t wish ill on anyone and many people may be fine; my point is more that the appearances can be deceiving.

    5) Re: being pressured/bullied/guilted for not doing more to help the community, speaking from experience, keep in mind the person doing the pressure/bullying/guilting is almost always seeking validation that the things they are worthwhile. You can give that person what they want (appreciation) without giving them a commitment that you are unwilling/unable to make.

    6) Keep in mind that sometimes, meetings are just badly run. The meeting organizer should do a better job of moderating so you don’t get that “everything has been said, but not everyone has said it” phenomenon. Also, no shul meeting should ever go till 10 PM. That is ridiculous.

    -Judgy Young Professional

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1-3) Virtual backgrounds are a good idea! I have to confess that yesterday I had my camera switched off the whole time, even though leaving it on was encouraged. I did this partly because I couldn’t face being seen, partly because it allowed me to eat dinner while the meeting was going. I don’t think I would want to join the meeting by phone, though, as I find phones awkward at the best of times.

      4) Yes, I know. I guess it’s hard to remember it though. I mean, I’m writing a novel which is partly about how idyllic-seeming families can hide abuse, so I should be aware of this, but it’s easy to get sucked into assuming everyone is doing fine.

      5) That may be true. In terms of what happened at university, I realised today we were really young! The guy who criticised me would have been twenty-two, at most twenty-three, at the time. I was eighteen!. Which at the time seemed very adult and mature, but does not seem particularly mature from where I am now.

      6) Yes! The person who was supposed to be running the meeting was also the person doing most of the presenting, which may not have been an ideal combination in terms of moving things along.

      Liked by 1 person

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