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Karma Police (First published October 2017)

What an odd title I have chosen for this post... (Regardless of my being a huge Radiohead fan.) And yet I can think of nothing better to encompass the feelings I have at recent events. Perhaps this is the first sign of my sense of my newfound validity starting to fracture... (I wouldn't be surprised, what with illness and issues at work catching up with me.)

My confidence is crashing.

I have just sent an email eloquently backing out of the post-interview process for a job that represented the best chance at alternative employment I have seen in seven years. And I don't really know why.

I think I may be scared of change, scared of failing, scared of succeeding, scared of taking on too much... but one thing is for sure: I was told I would be phoned at 4pm yesterday after the interview, and did not receive a call. It is not unusual for these calls to be delayed, and they would have called if I had been successful or unsuccessful; that is not in question. But the delay gave me enough time for my terrified mind to talk myself out of accepting it.

At the moment, I feel sad, but relieved. Tomorrow, I suspect I will be livid with myself. By the time next term starts, and I am back in the toxic environment I am so desperate to leave, I'm sure I will be seriously questioning my sanity.

Interviews are such dreadful things for Aspies to navigate, and this one was no different in that respect... A total of 4 hours in which to complete administrative tasks to do with behaviour and attendance tracking, a critique of a 20 slide PowerPoint for a Media lesson, a tour of the premises, a student panel, teaching a lesson (psychology), observing and commenting on a taught lesson (Geography), an informal 'meet and greet' session during a break, that was just as much a stressful game of strategy as any other part of the interview (for me) and of course, the formal interview... So many different tasks in such a short time in unfamiliar surroundings... But I cannot bring myself to ask for additional time or consideration in these things - the nature of the role means it is pressurised and, naturally, they wanted interviewees to demonstrate they could cope with this kind of pressure. And it is this kind of rationalisation that makes it so easy for me to stay exactly where I am.

It's odd how a simple delay in notification is enough to open to door to doubts; doubts to certainty, certainty to sabotage. Of course, there is no guarantee that I would have been offered the post. No guarantee that it would have been within my capabilities. (There I go again.) They asked me an odd question in the interview and, in a single moment, I saw that chasm of difference between me and most other people. The question was: "What would you do if you were presented with a challenging situation?" Clearly, in hindsight, they were imagining the question framed in the sense of a challenging situation with a particular student in the classroom, and were expecting to hear about some creative strategies for dealing with it. I, however was flummoxed by it. Where would I start? Practically everything was a challenging situation to me... I did a pretty decent impression of a goldfish for a second or two before explaining my confusion, and they asked a more specific version that I was able to answer.

I talked a few posts ago about how my despair had evaporated at my new found validity, but it seems that it's not gone entirely. It reminds me of a close Aspie friend I heard recently relaying his thoughts about his chances of ever being in a relationship with a partner and his resignation at being alone. It made me sad, and I felt compelled to make supportive comments, but they would have felt like platitudes, because I myself feel a similar resignation: A resignation that I will never have a job that shows off my skills or fulfils my potential (or comes anywhere remotely close to it). People who know me, my work ethic, skills and ability would balk at such a statement, but the odds are stacked against people like us, externally and internally. Perhaps I'm just too tired after all these years to keep trying.

But there is hope. Maybe it's my little stash of validity fighting back, but there's a little voice in the back of my head telling me that I'm too good for this job, or the new one: That I am meant for something else, and if no employer can give me a platform for what I can offer, then perhaps I should build one myself. Maybe it's Karma that I have such a distressing job. Maybe it's Karma that I am so terrible at interviews. Maybe Karma is trying to tell me something. Maybe it's time I listened.

Still from Radiohead's 'Karma Police'

"I've given all I can,
It's not enough,
I've given all I can,
but we're still on the payroll..."


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Chris Russell
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