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.

20 thoughts on “Failures (Griping)

    1. Yes, I have. They tend to not know what skills librarianship involves and tell me to try archiving (which is a completely different field organised in a completely different way). I even spoke to one who specialised in people on the spectrum, and that didn’t really help either.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like any chance I might have had of seeing success as something other than financial has vanished since I got engaged and started thinking about starting a family. But, yes, it would be good to feel a success even in non-financial ways, if I could manage it.

      I guess the problem is that we live in a capitalist culture that puts a price on everything and if people say they like my writing, but aren’t willing to pay for it, it rings hollow (I had this problem in particular with Hevria).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks… it was pretty much luck in my case. Not to say I didn’t “deserve” it (in the sense of having the necessary skills), but my employer could have hired any number of Anglos in Jerusalem.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I am the wrong person to comment on this post, but I will do so anyway. I sense that you have made certain assumptions success: 1) that your academic success at university should automatically translate to career success, and 2) that a job is only good if it correlates directly to what you studied. Re: #1, while there is some overlap and while there is variation by field, in my experience, university academic skills and job skills are really not the same and it makes little sense to assume they are necessarily correlated. Re: #2, there is nothing wrong with ending up in a job that has nothing to do with the career path you originally trained for. Many people have changed direction when they realized the path they trained for was no longer a good fit. You found a job with a caring, supportive boss and that gives you the balance and flexibility you need – does it really matter that it isn’t in librarianship? I think that wanting to increase your income/start a second career is valid, but I think comparing yourself to these assumptions is only going to hold you back.

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    1. Re: #1, I think it’s also that I went to Oxford and was expected, on some level, to do well. And #2, the career change, is harder because I’m basically doing unskilled secretarial work that I’m overqualified for — and still doing it badly. But, yes, I should probably focus on where I am now, not where I was twenty years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a C average in my major from a lesser-known college and I make more money now than several peers who got better grades at more prestigious schools. Administrative skills are important in many professions and transferrable to a number of fields. By the way, I’ve heard of plenty of librarians who’ve struggled to get jobs. I’m not trying to self-promote (truthfully I do not consider myself a model of success) nor am I bashing impressive academic credentials or librarians – it’s more than I don’t think these infallible, direct correlations to success exist in the way we expect them to and that it’s not worth beating yourself up over an imaginary “should” from 20 years ago. Just do what makes sense now.

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  2. Success and failure are such loaded words and very subjective. As for jobs, there are people who are fulfilled in them and others who put in their time and find that fulfillment outside of work. It’s important to know which you want or can tolerate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true. Normally I’m OK spending time at work, but looking for fulfillment elsewhere, but yesterday the frustration and boredom that usually evaporates on the commute home stayed around until evening.


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