I have a job. A proper, grown-up job. It’s not unlike some of the stuff I’ve done in the past – the stuff I struggled with, eventually coming to the conclusion that the right place for me was academia, where I could have space, and autonomy, and where it’s normal to be a little bit eccentric.
This job is not in academia. A lot of what I do is not dissimilar – training rather than teaching, research for other people rather than pursuing my research interests – but the skills have a lot of crossover. It’s also the first job I’ve done with the (self-)diagnosis. It’s been interesting to experience the same old challenges, but have some understanding of why they’re happening. Interesting. Not much fun though.
I took the job partly because it was based working from home, with a day or so a week out and about. Working from home is great: I like the control, I like being on my own, I like being able to Get Stuff Done. The out and about stuff is harder. It’s not constant, so I can normally hold it together for the half day I need to. Occasionally it’s a full day, and the second half tends to be littered with instances of my verbal processing breaking down. I’d realised I had some verbal processing issues, but I can now see that they’re particularly related to stress and tiredness, I guess from camouflaging.
I have realised that I’m actually very good at camouflaging for short periods. I’m particularly good doing so in job interviews. I guess because I go prepared, because I’ve been briefed what to expect, and I’ve rehearsed the ‘right’ answers to all those silly interview questions, and written summary after summary of how my experience matches these or those criteria, I can often nail it. I can’t keep up that level of performance for more than an hour or so though, and I often feel a desperate need to escape afterwards.
At the moment, more and more client-facing stuff is being handed over to me. I often feel out of my depth. I don’t feel I have the expertise to provide the quality of service that’s expected. My boss is trying to spread himself too thinly, so as much as possible is delegated to me, but I’m not always the right person to deliver: he is. I think ultimately the business model doesn’t quite hang together.
I’m not sure I quite hang together either. When I’m out camouflaging for the day, or half-day, I find I’m very tired for the next day or so. In my spare time, I’m preparing for the next move, but I’m finding it quite tough, as the job is getting increasingly tiring. I look forward to quieter weeks, then find a load of stuff being added to my diary. In the New Year, it’ll be reasonable to move, given my career path (it would actually be damaging to stay too much longer even if it wasn’t so tough, as it’ll stop adding to my CV and begin to hinder my development in the direction I want to take long term).
I’ll do so with a lot more awareness of how I function (or don’t!) in certain situations, and the likely reasons.