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It’s nearly time for my second little bundle of joy to start nursery, which means life is soon to get a lot more expensive. It also means I will have more time on my hands, which I was hoping to fill with more work. Maybe a real job, like I used to have when I was trying to fit in with all the ‘neurotypicals’. But it’s been a few years since I worked in an office, and I keenly remember how hard it was to fit in, and how I never really managed it.

Over the last few days I’ve been searching for a job that meets my available hours, skills, experience, and level of bravery. It turns out this is quite similar to squashing a sofa into an envelope. One job matches my skills but they want somebody full time. Another has the perfect hours but they want me to have a specific qualification, or experience with a specific piece of software that I’ve never used. Ooh – here’s a good one! No wait, it’s so far away I’d never make the school run. And so on…

I also found a website for freelancers… but I’m not very good at being a freelancer. I have one client and my relationship with him is brilliant. He loves what I do, and I don’t have to talk to him on the phone or video chat. The freelancer site talks about web chat and video-link interviews. I suck at interviews and I suck on the phone. My confidence is close to zero and the thought of my income relying on this is literally making me feel nauseated.

When I spoke with my husband about these options he suggested I go back to my finance studies and wait for his side project to kick off. Then there will be lots to keep me busy. This certainly solves a problem but it feels a bit lame. I have worked, on and off, with my husband and his companies for years now and it can be very enjoyable. But at the same time I feel that it’s a cop out. I can’t get a job with another employer, so I end up working with my husband.

The joblessness is not merely a result of lack of opportunity (although that certainly doesn’t help). Before I got pregnant I had a few interviews and everyone said the same thing. They were happy with my skills and attitude but they didn’t think I’d fit the environment, either because it was too busy or too changeable. One interviewer also commented that I didn’t speak enough. This is the most frustrating part of Asperger’s for me now. (Apart from being unable to make playground conversation). I know I can do the work, but I can’t get past the interview. Even when they understand that I have Asperger’s, I don’t fit the team.

One company was going to hire me, but then things changed and the job never became available.

And of course, with each passing month and year, my confidence wains. It feels like a very long time since I was in a busy office. It’s a very long time since I had colleagues that I could see 5 days a week. A lot of mums will know this feeling, because it’s nearly always the mums who put their career on hold  to have a family. So now I feel doubly cursed. Once because of my children, and again because of the Asperger’s.

I will probably go ahead with my husband’s plan. Perhaps completing my studies will give me more confidence?

If any readers would like to share a story about your employment woes or successes, please post a comment!

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Hmm, did I seem stressed in my last post, talking about the job interview? I was. I was stressed and scared and seriously doubting my abilities when it comes to matters of employment. Today, my perspective is quite different.

That’s because I emailed my interviewers this morning to ask for feedback and I got a very nice reply soon after. I was almost too scared to open the reply!

One of the best parts was this:

In the right environment, you would do extremely well in a financial role and would be a valuable asset to your future employer.

OK, there’s the bit about the right environment – well I agree with them there! I know I have certain limitations because of the Asperger’s but everybody has limitations of one kind or another.

What’s important is that the interviewer confirms I didn’t make a mistake. I just wasn’t the best fit for that working environment. They liked me, and they liked what I said and how I presented myself. They want to keep my details in case a more suitable position comes up. That’s not quite a success, but it’s also miles from being a failure, or disaster.

So, when I came out of the interview thinking it had gone well, I was right. I can trust my judgement on that. This may not fix my confidence problem, but it certainly helps.

Bon. Life is good.

I have been contemplating the human need to be useful, with three examples.

1) Even my toddler likes to help clean up spills, put rubbish in the bin, and wipe her own nose. She’s not even two – she could be ‘reading’ or playing with her building blocks but no, she chooses to come and help me pick up the rice she dropped on the floor.

2) A man with learning difficulties now works at a local cafe. He’s a bit slow to take your order but he’s lovely and he gets it right. He clearly takes pride in his work and I’m always pleased to see him doing well.

3) I once had a job where they ran out of work for me to do. I was the only person who seemed to think this wasn’t OK and, after a few weeks of being told to “read the intranet” and solving sudoku puzzles, I moved on. The work hadn’t been very interesting but I missed it when it was gone and I had to sit staring at my screen all day!

I recently heard that the UK is one of the least productive countries in Europe. It’s ridiculous. Humans clearly want to be helpful and useful and to actually DO stuff. Are we badly organised? Inefficient?

With so many people packed inside our borders, and many more keen to come here, it feels like we should be the most productive, per square metre!

Doesn’t everyone get a chance to be productive?

Perhaps we are all waiting for the right chance, like the man at the cafe. In which case, do we need to change our attitude, or the organisation of the whole country?