Does Failing Make you a Failure?: Autistic Professional Confessionals – Part 4

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This is the fourth of a four-part series of the significant episodes in my autistic working life, where I’ve endured failures and scraped by with second chances . . . sometimes.

I recall with fervent light the joys of being given a second chance.

To make things right.

To achieve after letdowns, make amends, rebuild, reforge, and try again.

I like to think that one day I’m going to “arrive” in my professional life and be flawless, always delivering above expectation, and balancing my autistic strengths and opportunities with mastery.

That day isn’t today.

I’ve endured a couple of recent failures where the second chances weren’t given. I was not afforded the opportunity to make it right. My actions weren’t enough. My talent, insufficient. My earned goodwill, depleted.

What do you do when you feel the problem is you?

It’s normal to make mistakes, sure.

But should the mistakes define you despite your achievements?

They shouldn’t, but when it’s achievements that often define us, we can scarce afford to fail.

This is why I have issues. It’s why many of us do.

We tie ourselves and worth into being able to achieve and overcome beyond our imagined capacity, to prove ourselves to ourselves and to others. To conquer without what we know we won’t conquer within — because it needs no conqueror.

Things have come a long way on the Life Autistic, but they have further yet to go.

We’re still fully in a world where we feel more often excused for our “oddities” because of our talents, where our “weirdness” feels tolerated only as long as we can deliver. 

But what happens when we can’t. Or don’t? 

I’m well aware that my autism doesn’t come into play at the forefront of my professional performance or lapses thereof. But it’s the backdrop of who I am as a person. It’s in the gaps that people can’t consciously explain but subconsciously detect. It’s a tingling sense of otherness that turns sour and prominent when people’s views turn critical.

I can articulate a point to an audience, until I don’t. Or deliver on multiple things, until I miss one. We don’t always get the benefit of the doubt for a miss. We cover over our background and myriad personal challenges with achievement, but as soon as an execution gap comes up — it feels ugly.

It exposes the worst.

So as I try and fail, at what point will the failing outpace the trying?

I know the answer’s probably more positive. Where the only true failures are those who fail to try.

But what about when you’re done, when you’ve failed enough and exhausted your tries?

The Life Autistic isn’t a narrative looking back with answers to all the questions. It’s still ongoing, where the bricks are still being laid, the paths still walked, and where the torn sails may lead this raft onward or prove too tattered to carry it forward.






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