I have thought of this for months! But I couldn’t find the right words and now I think I have. But first, a bit of some background…
I just turned 22. Before I graduated high school I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (Which a month later also became High Functioning Autism) and before that I knew I had ADHD/ADD and social anxiety.
Why am I giving you information you might already know? Well hang with me here for a second, will ya? I’ll make my point soon.
I worked at Crossroads Books and Coffee on the coffee shop portion for 3 years. Going into my 3rd year my manager and friend resigned his position and we hired someone new shortly afterward…we…didn’t always see eye-to-eye, in a sense. Then I started to see that a lot of people who couldn’t see through my eyes. These were the same people that often didn’t see me as a leader or as an equal. But I wanted to lead. I wanted that recognition and role even if I didn’t have that official title! I felt I was ready but the harder I tried to prove it the harder I was pushed down and away. I tried so hard that I stopped connecting with the customers. I was embarrassed many times in front of these people until I finally snapped.
When we closed I stopped trying and caring about being a leader. I reconnected with the customers. And then I went to a different job.
Now, I work at Chik-Fil-A. There are a lot of benefits to working with so many people! There are also the drawbacks of meeting more people who still can’t and possibly won’t see through my eyes. This is an infuriating factor to me. Then, any time I feel I get to be a leader I am quickly overshadowed when I realize the ones who got here one or two months ago, months after me, know more than I do! They’ve been trained to do more. So they lead me. Here, I cannot push up because I’m not going up but I’m not going any lower than I already am either.
When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome I only thought of all of the answers that I’ve gotten. Now my life made sense. I thought of the possibilities of coping with the symptoms. Never in my life did I think this would become a negative factor to others. Because I break down so easily how can I lead? Because I rely on others around me to allow me to go and take a breather how can I lead? Why do I want to lead? How do I lead?
You see, before I was never a leader. I never considered myself an easy follower either. I was the person who needed to know why. I needed to know how. I needed to know everything around what a leader did. This infuriates some but most are understanding and answer the best they can but sometimes it still doesn’t make sense.
When I was trying to show I was a leader I didn’t get much support either. People would say, “It doesn’t matter!” “Why does it matter?” “Well, you’ll just have to deal with it.” “It won’t make a difference.” This is what they said but all I heard, all I deciphered, was, “You aren’t a leader. Stop acting like it and start following.” So then, why did I have this desire to teach and lead people?
That was when I realized this desire could be met! Every Sunday, I lead a small group of children. But sometimes I’m met with resistance by my sister too. Sometimes my mom will get a text telling her I don’t want her in with the kids with me. Sometimes I’m a bit short with the other kids when I know I’m not mad at them.
I don’t like moving jobs. I really don’t. Not because the first few days are horrible while I try to learn everything but because I know I’m starting at the bottom and I want to be able to lead others. I want to be able to have that type of confidence in myself again where I can keep my foot in place once it’s down. I miss it.
But I think more than anything I want people to try and see through my perspective. I want people to stop arguing with me like I’m stupid or some dumb child. I want to stop fighting for my own right to ask questions or to question my managers without offending anyone. I want someone to say to me, “I can see you leading” instead of, “You need to be following.”
I’ve been told before, “You’re a good teacher.” I took the compliment but I don’t see myself as a good teacher. I must be, though, if people keep telling me this.
I still have this desire to be a leader. I still want that confidence. I just have to work a little harder to make people see that I am a good leader.
P.S. Shortly after writing this I was told to show someone who is newer something they didn’t know how to do. This made me very excited 🙂
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT