It’s taken me some years to shake off high school and its hierarchy of hideousness, only to find myself there again and again, in the guise of ‘the workplace’. This raises an important question for me in terms of raising my neurodivergent children – how do I help them through high school, when most of the world works that way too?
And, I’m still stuck in it, drowning like a kitten in a vat of golden syrup. Oh it looks sweet, and tastes like success, but it’ll choke you nonetheless. High school was a painful exercise in never knowing what people wanted from me, and work has turned out to be just the same.
I’d worked for myself for the last two years, making my own rules, maximizing my productivity and keeping my sanity, and then I got offered a job.
I was excited, I was flattered, and I felt secure. After all, a regular income removes so many of the stresses that those of us on the spectrum find when we can’t stay in a job for long because of the ramifications of that on our souls.
I suppose that sounds dramatic, but it’s true.
Last week I thought I was settling in to my new workplace, that I was finally fitting in. I was joining in with the usual ‘omg work sucks’ conversations, and trying my best to raise people up and tell them their work was awesome.
Suddenly I learned that I may have been trying too hard and going too far, even though a lot of what I was reacting to was worse or more negative that anything I’d said. I was on the outs, not part of the crowd I thought I’d been admitted to. Regardless, I’m aware that some of the fault here is mine, intended or not.
There was a small tribe of people at work who’d complained about me, and we’re not an enormous workplace. Rather than come and talk to me, they’d gone to the top – the CEO no less – and had a bleat about my “negativity”.
I was upset, I was shocked, (I was very drunk the evening after I’d been pulled aside and told about my ‘negative’ nature) and I am still confused. This is not something I thought I’d still be dealing with now. I tried SO HARD.
Is being a people pleaser a side effect of being an autistic woman who didn’t know she was autistic until 34? Who knows… Either way, I wish it wasn’t my knee-jerk reaction. I wish I didn’t try to fit in with the conversation and perhaps take it too far. Too far means I’m trying
really hard to fit in, that I care, that I don’t want to feel like the weird cog in the machine.
I am the weird cog in the machine though, that’s been made very clear, and it will never change. I don’t want it to.
But how do I, in the quiet moments at home, teach my kids how to navigate the concentrated mini-society of high school, when it seems I didn’t learn my lessons the first time? I’m still fucking this up.
How can I help if I never learned to understand? It’s not even ‘understanding’, I just can’t do it. It’s not clear and I can’t see its nuances.
Worry #276 (of the many), and it’s a big one.
And maybe I don’t want to try anymore.
Maybe it’s their turn to understand.
This is part of what acceptance looks like, or the lack of it, and why awareness will never be enough.
Meet me in the middle, or get what you get.