So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I have been reading ‘How to make friends and influence people‘ in order to understand better how friendships work. If anything, it confirmed a belief that I have had since I was a child:
People are incredibly selfish.
And I mean that. According to the book (and my previous experience in the good ol’ social world), if people aren’t specifically interested in getting to know you, in order to befriend them, you should encourage them to talk about themselves. Without this crucial step, a friendship or even a rapport is unlikely.
What kind of bullshit is this? Considering I’m apparently not that desirable a person for friendship, being a weird aspie girl, this means that I (or others like me, who may be seen as ‘boring’ or ‘weird’) have to make the first move, encourage a silent and uninterested person to open up about their latest holiday or their dog or their manicure, in order to find some common interests, which would then spark a friendship. Surely it should be the other way around — the common interests bit comes first, then the friendship, and then you actually can genuinely and passionately say you are interested in the trivialities of that other person’s life like how they’re planning on spending their weekend? Goddammit, why is making friends so hard?
A little over a year ago at University, I had handed in my coursework for the semester (I got all distinctions, for the record), and was walking back slightly triumphantly to my accommodation. I had almost reached my front door, when someone came running around the corner, asking if he could speak to me. I was confused, expecting a talk on ‘our savior the Lord Jesus Christ’ or something but agreed. Next thing I knew, he was standing just inches from my face, and admitted he had seen me in the library occasionally since the previous year, and thought I looked interesting, and he said he desperately wanted to get to know me. I gave him my contact details, and he left.
Shortly afterwards, he contacted me. At this point, I blew it. It’s true, I was still a bit bewildered by the situation, but I was overly aggressive, unwilling to believe someone would want to talk to me or think I’m anything more than just a face in the crowd. After a couple more attempts at getting to hold a conversation with me, this particular admirer gave up.
I remember that incident with pain. I have sincerely regretted my actions ever since.
Daniyo, if you’re reading this (unlikely, but still), I’m deeply sorry.
But now, being unemployed and having little else to do with my time now except look after my grandfather or tagging along with my partner, I realised I am in need of making my own friends, for I am terribly lonely.
Potentially, therefore, last weekend could have been a turning point for me. Alas, it was not.
Ever since I got fired from my job, my parents have not stopped nagging me to get another job. This is despite the fact that I’ve been very vocal on this point: I don’t want to go back to work just to be bullied again.
Don’t get me wrong: when it comes to work, I’m not lazy. I always take the work seriously, and I work unnecessarily hard for my money, as I delight in making customers happy. But my employment history hasn’t been great for me.
Anyone who knows me would know I’m very close to my grandfather; he raised me as a child, and I acted as his carer during the last 9 years.
Around five years ago, I spotted a strange grey mass on my grandfather’s neck. This was the start of a long journey centering around melanoma, involving many trips back and forth to hospitals to get various masses cut off his neck.
Today, we were told the journey will soon be ending ‘in a few months’, as the cancer has now spread through his lymph nodes to his lungs.
Even though we knew this could happen, I’m not quite sure how to cope with all this.
I don’t really think I’m cut out for the big wide world of work. I can’t gain a rapport with colleagues, as is necessary for professional services, and I’m small in stature and build, so I can’t easily do manual work.
But so what? To hell with work. I don’t care what people say anymore; I don’t intend going back to work, putting my health at risk just to cover living expenses.
Why should I work in an environment where people judge me for who I am and how I’m different, rather than what I know and how I contribute?
Before this entire fiasco with my previous employer, I was so ecstatically keen to get into work. Despite making 100 or more job applications in 3 months, I was optimistic that I would get my ‘big break’ and get a wonderful job, where I could work hard and be appreciated for the hard work I put in. Alas, it was not to be, and I doubt that there is a workplace for me. Or rather — I doubt I am suitable for any workplace.
What I do intend doing instead is retreating into education. I want to be a researcher in law. Sure, this is a form of work, but not the standard, generic nine-to-fiver that most other people have. I can put my talents into use and hopefully no one would give two shits about whether I can charm birds off trees or I simply grunt at everything. (In theory, at least.) And when it comes to talents, I am so very often reminded at how amazing I am at research. So I’ve signed up for a PhD, in a place I know I would be accepted regardless my defects.
My family accuse me of being a coward as a result, not willing to ‘get out there’ and do as the majority have to do. But then again, as I am so often reminded, I am not one of the majority. So screw these expectations. I am not on this earth to be driven mad by others who don’t understand me.
I am incredibly glad that I at least have a back-up plan, which may not be available for many other aspies out there.
I got the appeal letter today. Obviously, I didn’t get my job back.
I admit I didn’t read the letter through properly, because I hate even to think about my previous employer. One thing strikes me as odd, though.
Before I succeeded in getting an interview with them, I had applied to at least 100 different jobs in the space of 3 months. Not one of these other prospective employers offered an interview. But this one did.
According to them, at the interview stage, they didn’t know I was disabled (at no fault of my own, as I make this clear on all my applications). This is the excuse they put forward as to why they ‘discriminated’ against me. Things started going downhill from the moment they found out, and the nature of my disability became known.
Which makes me wonder. Have I been discriminated against all this time? Did people refuse me a chance because I’m autistic? Did my former employer only offer me my job because they thought I was disability-free? I can only speculate, and all answers I can think of depress me terribly.
My feelings about socialising fluctuate all the time.
On the one hand, I often want to be on my own, tending to my hobbies and not being bothered by the awkwardness of socialising. I always make an ass of myself.
On the other, I get desperately lonely. I’m 24, and the only ‘friends’ I have are those I know through my partner. I met him online, after a scramble four years ago to get my shit together and go on at least one date before I turn 21. Those I knew at school and I considered to be friends don’t want to get in contact with me (some even blocked me on Facebook), and I occasionally message those I knew at University, which is based 2 hours away, so it’s not like I could just pop in and say ‘hi’.
Recently I tried going back on the website I met my partner on (primarily a dating site, I must confess), explicitly stating on my profile that I was there just for friendship. I have wonderful fantasies about having a girl-friend, with whom I could just go on coffee dates or walking through the nearby forest or other such quaint and idyllic crap. After a flood of messages from horny guys, I felt overwhelmed and a strong desire to be unsociable again.
I don’t know what I want. It’s weird. And when I think I know what I want, I can’t seem to work out how to get it. Let’s be fair, I am an incredibly awkward person, and people always seem cautious around me. I am incredibly lucky to be in a relationship.
I feel like doing something crazy. I feel like I’m going crazy. I need something to occupy my mind, but my recent experiences have put me off work for a while, and I live in the middle of fucking nowhere.
I toyed with the idea of making this blog for a while. Back when I was thinking about it, my intention was to start an online diary about my adventures in the big city of London (UK, that is, not Canada, where my sister lives), where I had started a new job. Or rather, the training was in London; I was due to start working from home in the rural south of England after 12 weeks. Needless to say, anyone from a rural area of the world would find the big city something of a challenge, let alone an aspie.
The training went fine. I was constantly getting praise from my trainers, especially for my ability to find very specific pieces of information and how I was able to do my work twice as fast as any of the other trainers.
But then, it all went horribly wrong. On Friday afternoon in the ninth week, my boss emailed to say I had a disciplinary hearing the next Monday, and that my job was at stake.
So, today was the day of my appeal against dismissal. I’ll detail the backstory in a separate post, but the short version is: After 10 weeks of work, I was sacked without warning because my progress was apparently not good enough; no one told me this, or if they did, this was by verbal means, which meant I did not ‘receive’ this information.
I appealed on the basis that:
I have a collection of emails which indicate, in writing, that my performance was satisfactory. It was never indicated to me, that I can recall, that my approach or my performance was unsatisfactory to the extent that it would cause my dismissal. I was not given a serious opportunity to improve my performance, or given a benchmark against which to measure it so that I could know how I was falling short.
I was not given sufficient support for my disability. Due to my Asperger’s syndrome, I have difficulty in following verbal instructions and relying on verbal communication. This was disclosed on my job application form and detailed in my occupational health report. When discussing the report, I indicated to my boss that as long as instructions and feedback were made via written communication and not by verbal means, there should not be an issue with my ability to complete work to the necessary standards. I also disclosed this to one of my trainers and I believe my boss relayed this information to several staff.