Fears and expectations about work

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Fears and expectations about work

Post by Hirundo Bos on Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:21 am

I've been on the waiting list for a government work training program for quite a while, and now I'm called in for a start-up interview. For a number of reasons, this is good; for a number of other reasons, it's also scary.

I have very little experience with work up until now, partly because of studies, partly because of autistic brain, and the anxieties and confusions that sometimes follow. Financially, it's not been particularly hard on me, because  I'm in a country with an extensive welfare system, and have a supportive family on top of that. But the welfare system does require me to support myself as well as I'm able to, and my conscience requires the same, and the goal of the work program is to figure out how well that is.

So the very good things about this are:

• It will finally give me a more permanent outline of what daily life will look like in the future. Up until now – for the close to eight years I've been on this welfare program – my life has been running on temporary solutions. With the work questions resolved, there will be few things left unresolved, and I can think longer ahead without the knowledge that everything will have to change at some point..
• I think I'm more ready for this now than I've ever been before. Over the last four or five years, I've made so many small improvements to my life, both internal and external, and they've added up to make a big difference. Many of them I have written about here. Even if work were to require a lot of new adjustments, I have most of the structures in place now to help me make them.
• And in this program in particular, I know I'm not the first autistic person they've run across, which means there's a chance they'll have a notion of what help I need. (And that they juuust possibly might be able to see past my more than well-functioning exterior and get why I actually do need a lot of help.)

So I'm looking forward to it mostly, and I'm hoping there won't be too much of time between the startup-meeting and the actual starting up, because these months of the year is when I'm at my most productive, and that'll give me an even better start.

But there are also fears, or at least worries, as is often the case before major changes in life.

• My job experiences so far, the few that I have, have mostly been discouraging. In some cases, I've been anxious and uncomfortable a lot of the time. In some, I've displayed behaviors that's raised a lot of eyebrows, because stress and anxiety impairs mental functioning. I've had one job I've kind of liked and kind of managed, but even that one demands some social effort.
• My understanding of the job market, the role of an employee, even the concept of professional work is murky. Confused. Like with a lot of other areas in my life... the kind of stuff I can figure out if I only get a handle at it, but without one, new information will only confuse me more.
• The readjustments to routines and habits will probably be good for me, in the end, but I'm also quite attached to the ones I'm living with now... I enjoy the current daily life, I've made it myself with a lot of effort, and I'm so uncertain about what I'm getting instead.
• I'm especially concerned about my writing habits, afraid I won't find the time, resources, stamina to write daily if I spend much of my day at work. (My ideal kind of work would involve writing stuff in my own living room, but I don't know if that's a realistic prospect... because my understanding of the job market is so murky...)
• And finally, while the waiting time has been beneficial, I'm more ready now than ever etc., the waiting time has also left me a little apathetic... My conscience says I should lean as little on welfare as I can, but there's a big part of me that doesn't really care at the moment. As long as I get to write, I'm good says that part.

So I'll go into the meeting with a certain lack of motivation, and with two conflicting goals – on one level I want an easy life, on another a socially conscientious one – or maybe they're not conflicting but my concept of professional work is murky. Anyway, this is probably one thing I should bring up at the meeting.

I... don't think I have a lot of questions at the moment, in fact I think I'll make the thread [no advice] for now (with so many thoughts of my own, I'm not sure I have room for anyone else's). It might change in the future, in which case I'll let you know. But if anyone have their own experience with work (with or without health issues) or new work or these kind of life changes or encouragement or something of their own to bring up, please do... besides that, I'm writing mostly to think out loud and to put things down outside my own head.

(There's also a chance I'll post a version of it on my blog. And there might be updates in this thread.)


Last edited by Hirundo Bos on Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Fears and expectations about work

Post by Enail on Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:41 pm

It sounds like that'll be an interesting change, much hope that it's a good kind of interesting!

The big thing I've always found going from a not-working to a working life is that that there's an adjustment period where I feel very sharply the reduction in free time... and then somehow I acclimatize, and it gets to seem like about the same amount of useful free time as previously. I think I tend to sort of expand to fill out the amount of time I have, no matter how much that is, with largely the same activities? Or I get more efficient when I have less time and less when I have more? I don't know if that's true for other people.
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Re: Fears and expectations about work

Post by Hirundo Bos on Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:33 pm

That sounds like it makes sense and is a comfort to keep in mind Smile
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Re: Fears and expectations about work

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:35 pm

My story corroborates Enail's.

Last year I was completely unemployed, and there were months where I'd pretty much given up on the job search so I wasn't even doing my main "job". I spent a lot of my time just napping, or playing computer games, or trying and failing to make headway on other hobbies.

Then I got a full-time job. And with that came other time obligations. At first I was very worried. Why didn't I spend my unemployed time learning to drive? Now I'd have work taking up so much of my time; when could I possibly make time for driving lessons? Moving to a new place had been easy without a job, but now I was going to be moving more stuff to a place with more people...and everything would have to be done over the weekend because my weekdays were already packed.

What I've found is that these limitations actually ended up helping me get more stuff done overall. When I had all the time in the world to learn to drive, it seemed so easy to schedule everything perpetually for "tomorrow". I can do X tomorrow, since I'm not planning to do anything else tomorrow. But technically I haven't committed to doing X either, so that means Y and Z can likewise be put off....

Even work alone wasn't quite enough for me to see a major effect, though. It's much more noticeable now that I have more frequent, ongoing appointments besides work.

Because now, it's like... I have to go to the gym tonight, because I've got therapy scheduled for tomorrow and a birthday shindig on Friday and a Con on Saturday, and because I can generally only manage to do at most one non-work thing per day, I'm forced to commit to specific tasks on specific days and actually do them on those days.

It's also possibly indirectly helped with how I'm perceived socially. I'm good at enforcing my boundaries, I think; it's just that I don't have a lot of them and I'm flexible with my preferences so I sometimes still come across as a doormat. But since I've got so many more ongoing commitments now, it's correspondingly more common for me to say, "sorry, I can't make it to that / can't do that thing this time because I'm already going to do X. How about $thing on $day, instead?"
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Re: Fears and expectations about work

Post by Hirundo Bos on Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:28 pm

I've been chewing on this for a while, and looked at my days, and it feels like there's quite a lot to it. Especially now I live alone... the days with the really good, flowlike feelings are the days where I do have some structure, some obligation... when I have all the time in the world, it takes so much effort to figure out how to spend it, I usually fall back on the least demanding of activities.

In other news, there wasn't a start-up meeting after all. They called me the day before, said they'd already had that meeting before, a year ago, when I was supposed to start on another kind of work program. I said I'd counted om that meeting for some information, they said they'd get back to me with information the next day. They didn't. So something will probably happen next, whenever that is... or I may give them a call, say that after eight years in the blue (most of them my own fault but still), I'd really really like some information now.

At least, my treshold for taking the initiative to talk is much lower now than before.
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Re: Fears and expectations about work

Post by Hirundo Bos on Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:46 pm

So for an update on this: It's happening. I'm on my way to the... what do I call it, work training place? as I'm writing this, I'll probably write parts of it there, Ine the reception area, waiting for my appointment, but post it when I get home, as there's no WiFi.

I've had one session there already, will have had two when I post, and I'm a bit scared, a bit optimistic. I do get the impression that I'll be setting the pace for this program, I'll be holding the reins, although I'm supposed to push myself a little, but I'm okay with that. I'm ready to probe my limits now. As for my thoughts about the future, what I'd want the most to do long term... vague as they might be, I get the impression they're not off the charts unrealistic. So those are reasons for optimism.

Reasons for scaredyness are of course that I'm facing change.

The things I'm more immediately concerned about/nervous about/need to work on early in the program are sleep patterns and punctuality. They're related, of course... One thing is that I have difficulties going to bed at a reasonable time. Which means I don't want to get up to early, which makes punctuality harder. Also, I want to hold on to the morning routine I've carefully built over the past two-or-three years, which means I'll need about an hour between getting out of bed and leaving the house. During that hour I have ample opportunities for distraction and delay. Plus it means waking up even earlier, which means I risk falling asleep when I'm not supposed to, like at meetings or during lectures. Those have happened in the past, it's embarrassing and impolite and also exhausting.

But sleep patterns and punctuality are also related in the sense where I'm delayed for my appointment bedtime. See, one of my problems with punctuality is that if I don't hit the target precisely, my resolve to be on time turns into a resolve to linger even more. It's that way with other habits too... when I have an internal command to do something, and miss the window, it turns into a command to avoid the thing. There might be some autistic cognitive stuff at play here.

So these are things to focus on in the near future, and maybe the program can help me with that.
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Re: Fears and expectations about work

Post by Hirundo Bos on Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:49 pm

PS: There was a [no adv]-tag on this post originally, but I can't remember why and am open to advice, so I removed it.
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Re: Fears and expectations about work

Post by Hirundo Bos on Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:06 pm

Hmh. Seems like the replies above got it right... I do feel like I've more time on my hands on the days when I have out of house obligations. Like today, I made myself a dinner with three separate vegetables, did a round of laundry, and cleaned out my bathroom, and I still have a few hours to spend before bedtime, and I don't feel like just 2048-ing them away, I might read or work on my cross-stitch-project or play a less mindless game or something.
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