So, it seems like I should have been writing these faster while I still had an office environment to write about. But on the other hand, it’s not as though my time there has dissolved like my position, so maybe I can just use the additional free time to catch up and inform you all of What I Learned. Either way, it’s not the end of the world, and it’s not the last position I’ll ever have.
So, what happened? Well, I had a meltdown at work while in a place I felt I couldn’t escape (the bathroom). I made the mistake of answering a phone call that turned out to jump on all of my you’re-absolutely-pathetic buttons at once. I disturbed some people. I was carefully shepherded home and then advised that they didn’t want to come back. It’s a bit of a hit to the confidence, the concept that I really can’t prevent myself from getting in my own way, and the fact that I’ve probably burned that bridge when I only had two weeks of the assignment to run is a bit of additional self-inflicted insult to the injury.
But… for all of that, that’s not the useful part, the part we can learn from. The useful part is: What now?
My biggest Aspie problem is executive function: I’m actually pretty good at passing “close enough” socially, stimulus overload is fairly rare, and… well, anyway, the biggest problem I face is a certain difficulty in figuring out my goals, working out the best way to reach them, and dividing that into manageable tasks.
So, as soon as I’d recovered from the noxious can’t-keep-down-water stomach bug I managed to develop the very same day (no, seriously, that was not cool), my husband and I went to the whiteboard on the refrigerator and wrote down four items.
(I scribbled in “exercise” under that, but I’ll be honest, I haven’t been very good at getting to that one.)
This is our priorities: Find a new job (or freelance, or sell things, or whatever), get a therapist so we can work on being able to manage myself out of doors (…I frickin’ hate therapy, but what needs must), and keeping house. And if I find myself in an impenetrable loop of “ack” on one, do one of the others.
So that’s one thing that’s kept me going and useful and functional is having goals. Specific goals that must be reached toward daily, with specific steps. (Spend two hours submitting resumes to positions on job boards. Research therapists in the area. Do dishes, fold laundry. clear off one of our endless Surfaces of Random Junk. List some of our Auction Overstock to Ebay.) I recommend that highly.
Another is… well. My daughter.
I’m hesitant to say this, because it’s obviously not very useful to anyone else. But she’s the biggest difference between this spate of being between jobs and the others. At first as kind of a negative–after I got The News, I went to pick her up from my in-laws’ house, and she ran up to me yelling “Mommy mommy mommy!” and her face was so bright and cheerful, and I just absolutely lost it under the crushing weight of how badly I’d failed this little girl.
(Also because my stomach also felt like it was crawling out of my torso through the abdomen wall, but at the time I chalked that up to stress. It was about two hours before I realized that wasn’t it.)
But… she’s also been a waypoint, someone to remind me that I’m not just trying to reassert my own professional reputation and since that’ll never happen (say some of my less helpful impulses) I might as well just crawl into a hole and die. I mean, if my in-laws still weren’t willing to watch her, I’d be having a harder time because she makes it hard to do anything that doesn’t directly involve her. (She is getting to be a lot of kid.) But I think it’d be even worse if I didn’t have her at all.
So. That’s been a big part of it to me.
On a final note, there’s another thing I’ve been learning, and it feels like one of the more important ones.
Use this time.
So, let’s say you had a full-time job, and you managed, like me, to lose it through your own… unique difficulties. You don’t have much money, you don’t feel like you’ve got any prospects, and it feels like the whole world is falling down on your head. It is so tempting, even if you manage to get up the gumption to make and perform a list of goals like that up there, you’re going through the motions and you’re hopeless.
You may be limited. But you also have about eight hours of time a day plus commute that just freed up. (And, on a side-note, all the gas money or bus fare that you’d been using along the way as well.)
It’s going to be a while before you have a better chance at self-improvement.
Obviously, not every project you’ve ever had in mind is well-suited to your unemployment gap. You’re probably not going to run out and buy a set of oil paints, or the engine you need for that broken hotrod you’ve always meant to rebuild. You’re not going to go enroll in classes, in all likelihood.
But not everything you want involves expensive materials, and a lot of them just involve time.
You have that novel you’ve always had bouncing around in your head, but your job just made you too emotionally exhausted? Block out an hour in the evening to work on it. You wanna make cookies just like Mom did? Pull the flour out of your cupboard and start experimenting. (I’ve been making ice cream, myself! My ice cream maker was a gift, but one of the things you can do with extra time is investigate local yard sales–there’s tons of people who got something like that and then never use it.) And there’s endless materials and videos and books available for free online for every topic you can possibly be interested in learning more about. Go forth, and start turning the self you are more closely into the person you want to be.
And don’t dither on it, either, because–you know what? We keep our noses down, I bet we’ll have a new position in no time.
And… hey, why not? Here’s a clownfish I drew: