Writing has become more difficult lately, not least because I’ve been busy clocking hours to make up for the lost income over the past 2 months but also the topics I plan to write about are somewhat painful. Since June, I have sent out 22 job applications but only one interview. Even though I’m getting more work from my existing 2 employers, hence there is less urgency in finding a new job now, the fact that I haven’t got any positive response from my job applications has put a dent in my confidence. The only one interview I had, I was asked if I’d have any problem working alongside a team of people younger than me. I thought it was a strange question, I never thought about that before, then it hits me that I have reached a stage where my age might start to pose a problem, especially given the type and rank of positions I’m applying for, and of course, the fact that I’m quite directionless in where I’m heading in terms of my career.
There is a reason why I take remarks like “things will change for the better” with a pinch of salt. Almost 8 years have passed since I got my psychological assessment report. Back then, I used to hike with a group of people every weekend. Compared to now, it’d seem that I’ve changed a lot ~ my intolerance to noise and crowd means that I’m now hardly out of the house unless necessary and work location is a factor I take into account when applying for jobs. How did I change so much since? How was I able to deal with the daily commute? How was I able to tolerate all that chaos back then? I keep questioning myself over, wondering if I’m using my autism and sensory sensitivity as an excuse, whether I’m not pushing myself enough. Every now and then, I re-read my assessment report because it’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten and that I needed to refresh my memory. And so it is, I found the answer I’ve been questioning myself in my report. Contrary to the fact that I’ve changed so much, it strikes me how little has changed over these years. The following words ring truer than ever.
“Currently, she works 2 part-time jobs to support her living… [she] described herself as a loner since she was very young and lately, she found herself more unwilling to interact with other people. She had low tolerance to noise and became easily impatient with people in the street. As a result, she rarely wanted to leave her apartment…”
I said that almost 8 years ago, before I heard of Tony Attwood, before I knew that sensory sensitivity is a characteristic of autism (I thought it was more of a tolerance issue than a sensitivity issue), before I stop hiking in a group, before I stop leaving the house unless necessary. Almost 8 years ago, I have (unconsciously) foretold what’s going to become of me now. I didn’t do anything to prevent it. I let it happen.
First, I haven’t always worked 2 part-time. In between, I have had full-time jobs. I knew I was lucky but I didn’t realise I was that lucky. Most research grants have only adequate funding for a research assistant post for a year or even less. I’m also increasingly seeing part-time or shorter time period. If it is only for 3 months, this means that I’d have to start looking around for another job the same time I start my new one. I guess the employers don’t realise how bad this is for morale.
Second, my noise sensitivity has always been there, it’s not something I grow out of, it’s not something I got used to, it’s merely something I’ve tolerated and the thing with tolerance is, it runs out gradually.
And so it is, contrary to the fact that I’ve changed all of a sudden and rather than saying ‘little has changed’, change is slowly taking place in the sense that my tolerance is running out. And this is worrying me because 8 years from then, how much more can I endure without the prospect of a change in environment? I fear I’m reaching my tolerance limit.
“Here I am thirty-four years old, and yet my life is almost wholly unexpanded. How much is in the germ! There is such an interval between my ideal and the actual in many instances that I may say I am unborn. There is the instinct for society, but no society. Life is not long enough for one success. Within another thirty-four years that miracle can hardly take place… My spirit’s unfolding observes not the pace of nature. The society which I was made for is not here. Shall I, then, substitute for the anticipation of that this poor reality?”
—Henry David Thoreau, July 19, 1851