Being autistically self-employed
Finding a full-time job nowadays is very hard, especially with the global inflation that has been going on for at least as long as I am alive. People can’t all afford the basic minimum to actually live and most are just working to survive.
Now imagine all the struggles that most people encounter while having a full-time job and add a whole bunch of triggers into it. Try imagining how it must feel to constantly be on your toes to fit in the professional climate and constant demands employers make to be the perfect robot for their company. Try finding a job when you are supposed to be confident but the pressure of the importance of a job is just unbearably high that even being the most extroverted person does not help you to stay calm and show of as confident. Can you imagine being judged while already feeling watched for every movement that could come across as “unnormal”, being scared that you may have to out yourself as being autistic as a grown-up with all the prejudice that comes with it.
I got my Aspergers diagnosis in 2021 and only by accident I found myself to be fitting in the spectrum which triggered me to get tested. For nearly all my life I wondered why everyone was so awkward and different. I actually asked: “Why is everyone so stupid?”, “Why do they not think logically?”. Now I know that it is my different way of thinking that conflicted with the norm, that the world is interpreted and analysed differently by me. I struggled to find a job, I gave my best to present my competences, but to no avail. I was constantly scared of not getting a job and everytime I got turned down it pushed me further into depression.
After 1.5 years of looking for a job and applying to everything from programmer jobs to cleaning staff. Every single time I got turned down. But I had to make a decision. Sadly in this non-Star-Trekian world we all need to generate money somehow to be able to afford food and shelter. So I decided that after 1500 Job offers I have sent to become self-employed. The amount of paperwork and the laws that I needed to read up on were not easy and was very triggering. Especially when it came to getting all the authorisations that somehow depended on each other in an infinite circle. But alas I got all that done and could call myself to be self-employed.
I already had gathered a few customers and was able to start some work. But it still was scary to communicate with them and I was afraid to loose these customers. Now after nearly 2 years I have regular customers and very happy customers who spread the word. Customers who were treated badly elsewhere and are now happy to be able to count on my services. Elderly people who feel treated fairly and kindly. It got better when I got my final diagnosis and was able to understand why things seem different for other people. Sometimes I still am a bit scared when looking for new projects, but it gets less and less.
I have the feeling like I would not have been able to do it being fully-employed and I see a lack of information from the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce about how to work with people on the autism spectrum. People tend to forget that children on the spectrum grow up and as adults are not considered autistic anymore. It is a spectrum, thus there is no clear rulebook everyone is different and has different experiences and triggers.
But for me, having chosen to become independant and be self-employed was the right choice. It gives me the freedom to choose my work-hours, my customers and not be overwhelmed with too much work at once while still making the needed income. While I still can’t tell everyone why I do not do certain things and why some things trigger me, because there is a lack of understanding in Luxembourg, there is no more stopping me from becoming succesful.
Maybe now I am slowly becoming an activist for grown-ups on the spectrum, as I have finally found myself with the diagnosis and see the world in my own eyes. I would also like to thank the Fondation Autisme Luxembourg for helping me get my diagnosis.