I just posted this on the autism forum. I probably shouldn’t; it’s like I slipped back to my Hevria commenting days.
I feel like I can’t take my own advice. Lately I said to a couple of people here that they shouldn’t see themselves as “failures” because of their lives and careers (or lack thereof), that people on the spectrum have extra challenges in life and need to celebrate their successes. Yet today, and most work days recently, I feel like a failure myself.
I’m not in a great job. It’s an admin job, two days a week (I can’t really manage much more). It requires me to do things I find hard, such as using short-term memory to use multiple windows at once, as well as periodically having to make difficult phone calls. There are times when it’s very quiet and I have to do a lot of dull sorting through boxes of old papers. My boss is supportive, but I worry that he thinks I’m an idiot. I frequently find myself feeling both bored and stupid, as well as useless for even being in this job.
I did really well at school and went to a very good university, then crashed with years of depression (or more likely autistic burnout, but I wasn’t diagnosed then). I slowly pulled myself out of that and towards an MA that would lead to a career in the library sector, then crashed again and struggled through the MA. Then struggled through a couple of jobs in librarianship before finally running out of job offers in that sector and taking the admin job when a friend offered it to me out of desperation. I feel I’m pretty much out of librarianship, that my skills are rusty and that there are far fewer part-time jobs in the sector than I expected, especially as I won’t work on Saturdays.
I worry about my finances when I get married (hopefully soon, but dependent on immigration bureaucracy). I want to build a second career as a writer and proofreader, but am nervous about my chances of success. I tried to work as a freelance proofreader once before, and couldn’t get any clients. I’ve been writing for years and had pieces published in various places, and people say I write well, but I struggle to get anyone to actually pay me for anything I’ve written. I wrote and self-published a non-fiction book about Doctor Who (special interest!), available through Amazon, but only bought by people I know in person because I don’t know anything about design or marketing, and didn’t know I could easily get people to help me with them until it was too late. I wrote a novel (about a young man struggling with Asperger’s and mental illness at university and in the Jewish community, because write about what you know), but haven’t found an agent for it yet. I’m working on a second novel, which I think will be better, but I’m scared I’m doomed to write and never get published. People praise my writing, but I can’t live off praise. I’m up for a Jewish journalism award soon for a non-fiction piece I wrote online about being on the spectrum in the Jewish community (again, write about what you know). I hope that might lead to other, better, things, but who knows?
I try not to compare myself to other people. I’ve mostly lost track of peers from school and university, but periodically I run into people working as lawyers, academics, rabbis, senior staff in NGOs. Good jobs. And I just dropped off the radar.
In art and literature, at least, I prefer interesting failures to slick, predictable successes, but feeling like an interesting failure isn’t noticeably different from feeling like any other kind of failure.