In January Every1Games held the Autism Friendly Unconference inviting the community to come together and address the most meaningful issues surrounding autism. Autistic youth ran workshops speaking with parents, support workers, organizations, and the larger community. 20 topics were on the agenda and we intend to explore them all deeper. The first topic is anxiety. Every1Games welcomes sci-fi author Jenn, writing on the topic of Autism and Anxiety, from her perspective as she starts a new job.
Leave a comment, ask a question, share with your friends. Enjoy!
Despite the long hours I have spent surfing the ‘net, I doubt you know me very well. My name is Jenn, a.k.a. Violetlight on some of the “darker” corners of online (*cough devart cough), and in true AA fashion, I am an Aspie. It’s been approximately never since my last meeting, and part of that is due to my topic of the month – Autism and anxiety.
Now I doubt very much that anxiety is a uniquely Autistic problem – I’m pretty sure plenty of neurotypicals have anxious moments as well. But, I thought it was a rather appropriate topic for my first blog post here on one of the lighter corners of the ‘net, Every1Games, due to how much it has been affecting my life lately. I just started a new job, and my feelings about this quite major change in my life has been … well, mixed, to say the least.
I first heard of Every1Games at a job fair for English majors put on at Brock University. I “officially” graduated last June, but had been out of full time studies for nearly two years, and had been looking for a full time job for nearly as long. The thing is, I actually really liked the part time job I had. Yes, it was minimum wage retail with lousy hours, but it was at a place I think most of the people reading this would equally like to work at – a video game store.
Despite the usual setbacks of retail, ones that us Aspies are stereotypically the worst at, like customer service skills, I genuinely liked my job. No, I loved it. I adored it. I went to work happy for almost every shift. I got paid to hang around a video game store, to talk games with people who wouldn’t tell me they weren’t interested, who wouldn’t just tune out. My co-workers, my customers, they all let me be myself. I could discuss my hobby to my heart’s content, and it was not only encouraged, but expected! I was there for three and a half years, and if I had been offered a full time position, I would have taken it in a heartbeat and would have been happy.
Unfortuately, the world often doesn’t care how happy you are. Minimum wage retail isn’t going to pay the bills for long, no matter how good you are at it, and how much you enjoy it. Not without an alternative source of income, which I didn’t have. So when one of my few, but very good friends offered to get me an interview for a full time position at her work, how could I refuse?
After two years of looking, I couldn’t turn this opportunity down. Not when I have bills to pay, when I want a bit of extra money, to not just scrape by every month. Not if I want to someday have a family.
The thing is, I don’t love my new job as much as my old one. It’s not to say I hate it. It’s at a computer store, which isn’t a huge jump. I’m learning new skills and it’s definitely more challenging work, in a good way. It’s for a small business, so I’m not answering to a nameless CEO hundreds of miles away. My work directly affects my boss’s livelihood. I like that responsibility.
But I still miss my old co-workers. I definitely miss the scheduling. I’m more of a night owl, so working afternoon/evening shifts definitely agreed with me more than a 9-5 schedule, with an hour’s commute each way. It’s just … after being somewhere for so long, it’s hard to adjust. Especially when my first day at the new job started during a blizzard, and I was stuck outside for half an hour. I thought they had called a snow day and didn’t tell me. I literally had my cell phone out, ready to call my old boss and beg for my job back at the game store, when my friend/new co-worker called me, saying she was so sorry for being late.
A week into it, and I’m still adjusting. I still have moments of panic and sadness, wanting things to go back to the way they were – the way I was comfortable with. The way I’m still comfortable with. I know I’m not the only Aspie out there with difficulty with change.
I don’t know if I’m qualified to give any sort of “advice” regarding this subject — not when I’ve been a nervous wreck for most of this past week. But, one thing that I can do, that I attribute to my Autism, actually does help.
When things get bad, I take a step back, and do what comes naturally to me, as an Aspie. I try to remove myself from the surrounding world, to focus on what I’m doing. I asked myself a few times this week, “why, exactly, am I upset?” and then I thought about it. Sometimes, yes, with tears blurring my vision, but when I try to talk to myself, logically look at what’s upsetting me, those tears soon dry.
People say it’s bad to detach from the world this way, but sometimes, I think it’s needed. Why not use our Autism-given abilities to help solve some of its “problems”, like anxiety?
It seems to be working for me. What works for you?