I thought I would write a blog about something that came up in my counselling session on Friday.
Last month I became a top researcher at work, I also got asked to do a second job as an accounting assistant and was recently asked to write the race reports for my new running club.
So now I have 2 jobs and a voluntary role, I have nearly paid all of my debt off, I am getting on well with my work colleagues and seem to have things very much under control. Things are going well. In fact I dare to say things have not been this good for a long time. I enjoy my job and the people I work with. I haven't had an autistic meltdown in weeks and I seem to be taking everything very much in my stride. Yet I have already said to my manager "You will probably tell me next week I have been doing the job wrong" "I was lucky today I just got through to the right people" "Do you not think I have peaked too early? The only way now is down"
I am waiting for everything to fall apart. In my head I shouldn't be doing this well. My counsellor said it sounds like you have imposter syndrome. Now I have heard of this but have yet to understand what it is or means and he said Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they're deserving of accolades.
When I leave my house I put on a mask. I work incredibly hard at everything I do. I stay late at work to finish off my admin because it is quiet and I can concentrate in peace. I set myself different targets to other people. Last month my own target was to achieve 100% consistency and not get any red on my figure sheet. I did it. I put my mind to it and remained focussed and I did it on my own merits.
However, 4 in 5 diagnosed autistic people do not have jobs and here is me with 2. I have a problem with communicating things yet I am a successful cold caller. I also have a tendency to overstretch myself but here I am managing to hold it all together.
My counsellor told me that because people in my life who I think are friends cast shadows over my achievements I myself then start to doubt it. At school I was bullied for being an overachiever so I learnt to hold back on my achievements. I find myself doing this while running 'I shouldn't be ahead of them' so I slow down. I have low self confidence and work super hard to be the best I can but then immediately regret it when I do well. Maybe regret is the wrong work but I hate being in the spotlight. I feel threatened by it like it leaves me exposed and open to speculation/criticism.
All my life people have told me I am not quite good enough but I have always had an internal belief I am better than people think. However, when I am doing well I am waiting in the wings for someone to say something and everyone else to agree.
I was told last month that I was only good on the phone because I didn't know when someone didn't want to speak to me so would just continue to ask the questions anyway. These people have never heard me on the phone. They do not know the questions I ask my colleagues and managers when a call hasn't gone well. Usually for example if a call doesn't go well I will ask my manager or another colleague how they would handle it. I then learn how to be better and that is how I approach everything I am interested in. I literally learn as much as I can about something.
My counsellor asked me if it was important to have lots of friends or more important to be successful. It is something I have been giving a lot of thought because I truly believe you just can't have both. People are too critical so I have decided I want to be the best I can be. I am no longer going to sell myself short just to make other people comfortable because life is too short. I will regret it on my deathbed. I said to my counsellor if I have friends that fall to the side on my way to being the best I can be then that is what will have to happen.
My counsellor said these peoples opinions of me are like rocks in a bag weighing me down and I just need to learn to let them go so that is what we are working on. My self confidence.
Comments have a massive impact on me. This is because I am autistic and process everything. I mean everything. I am just lucky I can have honest conversations with my manager and he reassures me. I think without support in the right places you are held back. In my last job looking back I was told in one breath how great I was at the job and in the next breath I was told I was not allowed to call customers when there was an issue because I was not diplomatic.
I have a handful of friends that are super supportive and for me that is plenty. Always aspire to live your life the best you can and not the life other people expect you to be living.