Life After Graduation

It has been 6 months since I graduated from University. I spent the first month enjoying the freedom that came with no deadlines hanging over my head. The second month was when my parents started urging me to get out and look for a job. Because I am not concerned about finding my dream job at this point, I was willing to take whatever job came my way. I applied to anything and everything. That second month I got a call from a restaurant responding to my interest in a dishwasher position – I had my first interview.

The week leading up to this interview was a stressful one. I knew that my poor social skills would make me seem odd to the interviewer and I weighed the pros and cons of telling him beforehand that I had Asperger’s. If I did tell him, would it justify my differences in social behaviour or would he not give me the job because of it? If I didn’t tell him, would he think I was strange and still not give me the job? It was the same debate I had with myself at different stages in my life – part of me wanted to scream from the rooftops that I had Asperger’s and explain to everyone else why I was different from them, but the other part of me wanted to hide my Asperger’s and just fit in. I had decided not to tell him.

The interview was short and sweet. It turns out the restaurant was desperate and I applied at the right time. The restaurant was sensory overload for me – the smells, the loud noises, and the overall chaos of it all. I tried to dedicate all my attention to my role of washing the dishes, however as the piles of dishes grew, so did my anxiety. How would I ever get them all washed in time? Was I working fast enough? If I work too fast, will I get them clean enough? I kept to myself, did my job, never got a complaint, but I lasted only one month until my anxiety ate away at me enough to force me to quit. I felt like a failure.

Month 4 brought more job hunting. My mom suggested I stick to my interests and apply to jobs related to computers. I managed to get a job as a salesman at store that sold computers. I hoped that my computer knowledge would again be all I needed to succeed…I was wrong.

I was an awful salesman. My inability to make small talk made for many awkward interactions with customers and co-workers. My computer savvy was not enough to make a sale. I was brought into the manager’s office many times to discuss my poor sales and lack of team cooperation. I was always told what I had done wrong but was never once given any help to improve. I again felt like a failure and an outcast. By month 5 I was fired.

I have been unemployed for about a month now and my job prospects are looking bleak. My parents are sympathetic but are also pushing me to keep trying. For now, 6 months after graduation, all I can wonder is if there is hope for an Aspie in the workplace.

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