Confessions of an Autistic, Independent, Unintentional Screw-Up Who Somehow Manages to Bounce Back
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Confessions of an Autistic, Independent, Unintentional Screw-Up Who Somehow Manages to Bounce Back

I suggest reading all the way through.

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Confessions of an Autistic, Independent, Unintentional Screw-Up Who Somehow Manages to Bounce Back
Michael Janke/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

Here I am, a 23-year-old living in the Midwest. I'm gay, I'm living independently, I'm active in my community. I should be doing fine. Sure, I had no steady employment for almost two months, but that was a decision I needed to make for my health and well-being. So why do I still feel like such a huge failure sometimes?

Some of my readers probably don't know that I have high-functioning autism, so life for me is tough no matter what. You can't grasp how living with a neurological disorder is like because you don't have it, and most likely, you don't know anyone who has it. As far as autism goes, let's set the record straight on just a few things: Vaccines don't cause autism. We're not all like Rain Man. We're not all savants. Perhaps Dylan Marron can help with this.

In any case, searching for employment hasn't been easy. However, several days ago, something inside me just snapped. I got my first smartphone ever just last month (a tragedy, I know). I have had phone problems before; sometimes, I would not get messages or calls at all, or much later, from people. Phones are weird. Anyway, I was looking at my new phone, and I noticed a notification that caught my eye. It was my voicemail. Apparently, I had five voicemail messages sitting in there, without any previous notification. One of them was from a reporter from the TH, asking for further comment about when I spoke before the Dubuque Human Rights Commission about getting conversion therapy banned in the city I live in and love. Another, far more painful one was a manager from one of the local Hy-Vee places in town calling about work and wanting to move forward with that.

That latter call was from a few weeks ago.

I remember someone calling me at that time, but it just didn't register. It made me so upset, that it made my day all the more worse, compiled with social media troubles and my Internet browsers refusing to work at all. I put it so much effort through so much of my life to try not and not make mistakes like that, and somehow they still happen. I've worked so hard to prove to myself and others that I'm not a failure, or stupid, or whatever you might think off of the top of your head. The pain was overwhelming, and there are days where I can brush off any other of the myriad of life's annoyances and troubles. I can deal with getting rejected by places for employment, because it's happened so many times prior. But seeing a voicemail from an employer who wants to move forward, days after the fact? Someone might as well brand me with a hot iron.

There are days when all I need from people and the world is comfort. I'm the kind of person that laughs at comics like Sarah's Scribbles because it provides an accurate visual representation of the internal struggles that people like me face. But, to be upset because of stupid mistakes and shit that you could've easily fixed if you weren't so dumb is one of the worst feelings out there if you feel that you still have to prove something to people. I know people who are going through worse shit than me, and I don't want to come off as selfish. People who know me know how much I would do for them if they were going through shit, but I don't always extend that generosity to myself.

There are some days where I just can't win. But I need to win and continue winning so I can validate to myself and other people that I'm not a failure. I know that not everyone looks at me that way, but I still can't let anyone see me that way. I've worked too hard for too long to have my life collapse because I can't get my shit together. Because of my autism, that hurdle is much higher than you realize.

I finally managed to secure a job at that same employer several days ago. That's not only worth celebrating, it's miraculous. However, it would be nice to not have to confront any more pain that I can't process. Recognizing your own emotional fragility has to be either one of the shittiest things ever, one of the biggest revelations ever, or both. In the meantime, I'm hoping that the Oscars will turn out well.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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