What It’s Like to Kiss the Sun

You’re probably familiar with my one confession.

I’m actually quite good with interviews.

Almost a year ago, I recounted a bit of an experience where I essentially scaled a wall of five rounds of interviews and beat out a couple hundred candidates. Except one. I’ve made an art of getting as close to victories without being able to take them.

So off I fell that wall, back slamming to the ground and heaving the wind out of me. I was sore in defeat, but over time I found what it was to be resolute.

While I’m not sure how neurotypicals do it, my “autistic strategy” is cycling back into routine deep enough to where I can counteract my other autistic routine of self-talk-immolation: where I don’t revisit the regret and rethink what I should have done, but rather unknowingly dig myself into the futures where I’ve failed.

This past year, I scaled the wall again.

In my career, I tend to balance contentment with opportunism, better recently now. So when an interesting opportunity opened up, I grabbed my hat and tossed it into the ring.

What I didn’t realize was that it’d set off a four month crusade, one in which I’d be contending against several hundred applicants. Without getting too far into the specifics, each meeting carried its little share of joys, reassurances, delights. You know, those little things and answers that make even a pessimist (me!) feel like this was it. These were the doors.

One by one they opened. Different scenarios and tracks made this more and more the right kind of opportunity for H2’s next adventure. This wall took me to greater heights.

Ten interviews total. Talk about putting skills into practice! After that point, I feel like they’d have been sick of me. I even lowkey disclosed my autism! That was a huge first.

But throughout this entire excursion, the many rounds, the many faces, for once I felt peace throughout. No major worries. No gut-wrenching concerns. My autistic-tinged skills and prep seemed to be delivering “the big one” for once.

After the ten interviews, we waited.

And waited.

I was not selected.

In my soul I nodded. My fingers let go that same wall, where I’d climbed twice as high as last year. I felt indeed I had kissed the sun and watched it shrink as backwards I fell, bracing my back for that same impact, only more intense, that same breathless feeling of the wind being rushed out of my lungs.

I have made an art of this.

I’ve snapped back, not from being fitter in my old age, but from understanding what it’s like to come this close. Again. These heights are terra firma. I was sad with the heaviness of this long journey that concluded in similar end. And that is OK.

I thought about the comedy of it all, how I have indeed come far, yet feeling it is not far enough. How my interesting path isn’t so much progress, but merely making a long and winding journey of it. How I’m learning that not every good path is the right path.

I thought about my daughters. How we’re ever going to cram them all into one room. Where I’m likely going to have to uproot this office, the place where the journeys begin, and bury it in my basement, like an object lesson — where once this little alcove kissed the sun, but cannot keep trying to climb to such forever. The mounting needs, my futility in expanding the borders, many daunting possibilities.

We don’t quit yet.

For all my prognostication, the hopes were never as I wrote them.

We kissed the sun, fell back to Earth, where that beaming star looks dimmer. But only until the dust settles, when I shake the rest of it off, fix my hair, grab a coffee, and look forward to the next hill — where I’ll aim to do more than touch the light, but find it embracing me back.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.

Hey, I might not be good at “getting jobs” apparently, but y’know, I interview a lot. These tips may help. And if they don’t, they’re worth a laugh:

How Autism Works in My Favor – If You Can’t Be Remarkable, Be *This*

“Hunter, do you mind if I ask you a question?”

It’s not often that I’m surprised — not because I’m “good” at predictions or smart or whatever. I just spin my autistic gears enough to map out the spectrum of human variables, and by and large, people just don’t deviate enough from their norms to dot my radar as an outlier. And that’s good; sometimes my autism works in my favor.

But that question surprised me.

I’ve made an over-practiced art form of interviews – whether it’s for jobs or informational sessions. For the latter, I never expect people to ask questions of me. Like, I’m the one who’s looking to learn — what could possibly be worth asking about me? 

“Wow, uh, sure?” I said.

“Do you always wear clothing with your initials on it?” she asked.

I laughed and looked down: I’d been wearing my Helly Hansen® vest.

“As I’m fond of telling myself,” I replied, “if you can’t be remarkable, be memorable.”

I’m not remarkable. I can’t get by on skills alone. I’m really bad at a lot of things. If I talk without a pre-planned agenda in mind, I unspool after five minutes. I’m well outdone by many in terms of capability. I’m doing the best I can at the table being dealt a 7-9 offsuit hand.

But I can be memorable. 

Autism works in some oddly beneficial ways at times. We’re different out of the box. We’re going to sound different, use different words, think in strange and different ways. We’ll communicate in a way that won’t sound like others.

People remember different.

Since I stopped caring about fitting in, I’ve doubled down on fitting out. I grow out my hair out because it’s a conversation piece. My word choices and diction are unlike most others, to the point where I can’t write “example copy” anymore, because people know it’s mine. I have the coolest custom email alias at Apple. I wear my Helly Hansen® attire because people either recognize the brand or they think it’s because of my initials.

I’m not an autistic savant. No one is going to notice me for prodigious feats of memory, skill, or formidable intellect.

But I am different, and that’s memorable.

What’s memorable to you?

 

Oh, by the way: thank you for taking a few minutes to read this post. You could have spent that time doing something more enjoyable, but you chose to read this blog, and that means a lot. If you want to learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic – or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram. Thanks!