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Today’s Journal prompt: Are you currently fulfilled at work? If so, why or why not?
We’re going to stick with this work topic again today. Today’s Journal prompt is what I wanted to write about yesterday. I feel grateful for the life I built, the life I’m currently living, and the work I get to do. I love my job. I am very much fulfilled.
For me, my work is a calling. It’s a vocation. The marriage between my life’s purpose, my actual career – what I do daily at work, and my personal life/healing is only suitable for some. What I have is glorified, though. Many people we admire or put on a pedestal have his marriage of life and work. To be more precise, I am talking about a marriage between life and work that sounds/looks like these statements “I love what I do. I do what I love.” and “My life is my work. My work is my life.” Although I feel like I make the best of what I have and live a healthy balance, I don’t have another choice. I don’t say that as a complaint. I don’t feel resentful, helpless, or upset by not having another option; it is just a simple fact.
There are many reasons why I can only do what I do for work. It doesn’t mean that it won’t change over time and grow into other things, but I can’t just let my career go and work for someone or something else. Being a highly sensitive person is just one aspect of it. Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I effectively teach compassionate people to be able to work with and around other people in an empowered and healthy way. As opposed to someone who says, “I’m a highly sensitive person, so I can’t be around drama, and the work environment is just too much for me!” If that were true, all the HSPs would be shut-ins or living in caves 😉
Being on the Autism Spectrum has a great deal to do with it. It colors all areas of my life in ways I’m just uncovering now. For example, as I said in yesterday’s entry, I was a social worker for ten years and have worked in office environments. These jobs included working with teams of people, punching in and out of the clock, not being fully in charge of what I did and when I did it, and dealing with client and staff issues. If I were simply a highly sensitive person (which may not be simple at all), I would be able to learn how to separate my energy from other people’s and how to stay in my lane to live a healthy life inside this work environment.
I think an aspect of being on the autism spectrum but not solely because of it, is that I am maniacal. Most people know the definition of maniacal as being crazy or manic – I’ve never been either. However, there’s another definition for maniacal: “characterized by excessive enthusiasm or excitement: a maniacal interest in gambling.” I don’t have a maniacal interest in gambling, like this example, but I do have a maniacal interest in what I do for a living: teaching people how to trust their intuition. Many people also associate Autism with special interests – a classic one being trains or train schedules. But, as it turns out, I have been obsessed with psychology, relationships, spirituality, nature, and intuition my entire life. By age 14, I was a spiritual leader on retreats.
But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered I was on the Autism Spectrum that I saw how much I was Masking. Autistic Masking refers to the conscious or unconscious suppression or hiding of elements of a person’s autistic identity. Masking is often a social survival strategy – used to conform to expected ‘norms,’ cope with situations or environments, or avoid expressing anxiety.
Over the Summer, I was in a car with a married couple, and they had read something on the internet where I shared I was on the Autism Spectrum. The husband asked a relevant question posed as a statement but with a skeptical tone. “But you don’t seem like anyone I know on the Autism Spectrum.” What he meant was that he is used to seeing a little boy or man spinning in circles, rocking back and forth in the corner, saying something like ”Kmart! We need to get to Kmart to buy underwear!” (This is a reference to Rain Man the movie in case you haven’t seen it). It’s a common albeit ill-informed and outdated understanding of Autism. My quick response to this man was, “Yes, that’s because I’m very good at Masking.” At this point, the wife responded, “Yeah, but isn’t that exhausting?” “Exhausting” is an understatement.
Working for myself at home, which means I’m in a relatively controlled environment, gives me much more energy since I don’t have to mask much. During my time as a social worker and all the other odd jobs I had before, my energy was surprisingly like that statement people had in the position working with developmentally disabled adults “It’s 50% working with clients and 50% working with staff.” However, going out into the world, into the work environment, working on other people’s stuff, and stuff that I am not interested in yet can do very well means my energy is split. My energy is ”split 50% towards the job and 50% towards masking.” It sounds exhausting just writing it! It also means that I’m only, at my best, able to give 50% performance to that job. Nevertheless, I still found myself “climbing the corporate ladder” quickly. I had job titles created just for me and was given special perks because my work was impeccable and stood out.
Two days ago, I wrote about how emotional abuse causes brain damage. I also wrote about how my intelligence and energy have significantly increased due to no longer having any toxic relationships. I have been full-time self-employed for 12 ½ years now. Still, most of that time, I was steeped in so much toxicity due to my personal and sometimes professional relationships (as in professional partnerships). It wasn’t until this year, after spending 1 ½ years after being orphaned from my biological family, that my full intellectual and working capacity started to be uncovered.
Let’s return to the topic that mixing personal development with work isn’t suitable for most and shouldn’t be glorified. Again, it is not a complaint but a recognition that it’s a complex way to live. Most entrepreneurs find it challenging to separate work from personal, to know when the workday ends, and how to have the discipline to put work down. They often have difficulty understanding that every success and failure is their responsibility. When you own your own business, it only hurts you if you point the finger when things go wrong. Being an entrepreneur requires radical responsibility in all areas of life. In my case, now that I am learning how to mask less. As a result, I have more energy and am ridding myself of toxic relationships. I’m happy to stay. I am creating more of a healthy work-life balance. However, my job is also my passion, and there’s nothing else that I enjoy nearly as much. Again this may sound like something that most people want, but in another light, it can be seen as I’m never not working. To have a healthy work-life balance, in this case, requires being aware of the subtleties. It’s not as simple as “I’m at work now.” and “Now I’m resting or socializing or doing chores.” But I’m also excited to say not only am I cut out for this work, but it excites me. It involves subtle energies, I know I’m doing it right, and there’s nothing else I’d rather do.
I know that every one of us has a unique gift and voice to bring to the world. Not only do I help people find this voice inside of themselves, but I know I found mine. I go to sleep quickly at night and wake up grateful each day because of this inner knowing. If you are reading this now, I sincerely wish that you learn how to tune in and trust yourself so that you can find this voice or relax in the knowledge that you have found this voice and can therefore go to sleep and wake up grateful just like I do.