I remember devouring literary criticism, volumes of Harold Bloom, and poetic commentary, giddy with the thought of becoming an English professor after college. Knowing lit crit, unlocking texts, all the things that would enlighten readers with this Gnostic depth and metatextual undercurrent of Western works, I thought I could be a contender.
Instead, my teaching career began and ended with a mucky thud of a dud year. My start in 6th grade was little more than a disservice, a far cry from the pontifications I had in mind.
So too it was, thinking I could be somewhat of an asset at a new church, with some keen theological insights and knowledge acquired from Bible college, where I’d be of some value to eager learners, seekers of the Word.
That, too, came nary to pass: my most eager church audiences this decade have since been preschoolers, who at least laugh at my silly jokes, juggling routines, and how I can jump and touch the ceiling at the end of one of our songs.
And then my career, where I thought I’d be a good supervisor, manager, and leader, by guiding others to do the job as well as I’d done it, only to find it was far more political and people-based than raw knowledge and skill would ever get me.
What does this have to do with autism?
My Life Autistic led me to pick up a great depth of knowledge without realizing I could be terrible at applying it.
For all I knew about English, writing, and literature, I ended up a terrible teacher of all three.
My Biblical exegesis and theology was a non-starter, coming only in handy for things like adding creative color to David & Goliath tales for 4-year-olds who can only stay seated for 10 second bursts.
Knowing the routines, process, and ways to manage teams didn’t help me the way I thought it would in leadership: it just reinforced that “yeah, I was a good player, but that doesn’t make a great coach or people developer.”
It’s a hard thing for people like us, where we can be so quick on the knowledge and slow on the nuance. When the glory often rests in the “force multipliers” of the world, and all we have is the “force” just collected unto ourselves.
I never became an English professor, Bible teacher, or Senior Organizational Leader.
But I hope I’ve become a better version of myself.