Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder

A Duck or a Chicken?

You may wonder at the title of this post, but soon you will understand why I have named it so.

You know, most definitely even if you a new reader of mine, that I am very much struggling in every social interaction I have. It is very normal to have difficulties reading social cues and such when on the spectrum and I am no exception.

I have seen people often who seem to not care at all what others think of them, and personally I have always wavered between caring too much and not at all. I don’t mind if people think I am strange or a freak, but I care if people are hurt by my words or actions. I want to be accepted by others and therefore hide parts of myself that are not acceptable – although, in truth, I have no idea what is and isn’t acceptable.

I am far more fragile than most people assume. This last year and a half I have been very unhappy at work, all the while doing my best to be kind and appreciative of all the good I have been privileged to there. I have tried my best to explain what troubles me at work, been promised change and support and help, never to receive it. It is not their fault, I do not blame anyone, because I can see they are stressed and struggling themselves as well. It is no wonder they have little time or patience for an apprentice with little knowledge or ability to help out.

I have to say, however, that it is perfectly normal for an apprentice to be of little knowledge and ability when they first start out – in fact, it is the point entirely. I am there to learn and improve over the course of several years. There has not been sufficient time or energy, or perhaps even willingness, to spend on guiding me or giving me assignments within my capabilities for a very, very long time. My daily happiness at work has therefore gone from curious and excited when I started, to deeply unhappy over the last year and half.

At first, I thought it would be better again and that there was hope for all of us and our joint happiness. Now? I am not so sure. Every promise made to me has not been kept, and even if it is unjust of me to judge tomorrow by what has happened in the past, I find it difficult to stay positive.

When I am praised it’s always for something people know I didn’t do, when criticised it is my own misunderstanding of how things are done that are to blame. I do not know which of the two that gives me greater sufferings.

I have never felt I was anything but bothering people. That, I am aware, is my own fault. If I had been different, maybe I would have been appreciated more. But I am not, and even if I am working on improving my skills, I don’t feel like I am not good enough. I am not good enough yet to do what is needed and wanted at work, but I not a regular employee – I am not at all supposed to be. I am in the process of learning and that is what I am supposed to do.

After this long, it is hardly odd that I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I am not what they want me to be, nor will I ever be. I am just me and that should, I honestly believe, be enough. Of course, being every single day at work confronted the comments and actions of people who are unsatisfied with me is bound to have some effect.

I have cried more these last two years than I believe I ever have before – some periods, I have cried daily. I have never been a very confident being and what little self-worth that I could claim before starting to work where I am now, disappeared long ago.

I am most ashamed of the fact that I know how lucky I am. The place I work at is good place, with great people and benefits. I think, if I had not been an apprentice, but a skilled regular worker I should have been able to be happy in some ways. I am sure many would be.

When I started, it was very different place. Smaller, less people and a more cosy office environment and even a small kitchen area where one could eat lunch in calm and quiet. Now, another company was bought and brought into ours, bringing wonderful people that I am so happy to have met, but at the same time increasing the office size quite a lot.

Before, I could sit in a quiet office and look out the window and see the bright and wondrous city outside, now we sit in a very noisy and extremely large office with hardly any windows and no view to mention. It is more the feeling of an enclosed factory than a city office and no one seems to be able to agree if, for instance windows should be opened or closed (thus leaving everyone either too hot or too cold) or how bright the light should be (because obviously an office with a large number of people should all have the same strength of light no matter where they are located in the office or what their own preference should be – if you get a headache from the bright light, they offer painkillers to soothe).

I am not made for such a setting. I need nature and calm, quiet places of solitude and reflection. It is my own preferences that have made it physically difficult to work in our newest office but being hyper sensitive when it comes to things like light and noise, I fear my preferences are not likely to change.

There is a lot to be grateful for, but unfortunately, I am struggling to see it.

More than anything else, I want to be again like I was when I was a little girl – confident and calm in the face of any challenge. People could say what they wanted, I didn’t care. It was only important that I acted as I myself believed to be best; I wanted to be honourable and loyal. To become more like my old self, my confident inner child, I wanted to stop crying and feeling as miserable as I have felt, and I tried to think of an animal that tears would slide off and I thought of a duck. I decided, I would be more like a duck instead of a chicken – as I have for years been a horrible coward.

I am learning and if it isn’t good enough at work, then that is it. It just won’t be good enough for them. One of my bosses at work made it very clear he would never himself have hired an apprentice, because he saw it was a waste. He would much rather simply hire a proper employee. I don’t think I will be appreciated at work as an apprentice – a learner and beginner. It’s fine, all that would have made me cry, will slide off like nothing, because I am a duck and not a chicken. I will face each day at work with as much joy as I can, ignore whatever people think or say, and focus on learning with curiosity and play. I may never be a genius of anything, but I don’t care. All I ever wanted, all I want, is simply to be happy.

I don’t know if I will stay working where I am now, in spite of the fact that I still have two years left on my contract. Perhaps, I will be fired because I’m not wanted by many in the office or because I am not learning as fast as they would like or need me to, but perhaps I won’t be. Perhaps I might find something else which will make me more happy, but then again, perhaps I will find some happiness at work again someday. Perhaps I can be moved to a different team or project and who knows, maybe someone there actually wants an apprentice and could appreciate me for who I am; a curious beginner eager to learn as much as possible.

I don’t know what will happen in my future, but I do know that I will do my best to each day be more confident and appreciate my qualities, even if others don’t see them. I will be brave and try as many new things as I want searching for my happiness and more than anything, I will stop being afraid of every little thing. People can think whatever they want to think, what is it to me if they think I am a fool or slow? People will think what they want to think no matter what I do or think.

The important thing is, what do I think?

I think I am doing my best, I have sacrificed so much to be where I am and I am done sacrificing myself for nothing. I believe and feel, as long as I do my best and approach each day with joy and curiosity, as long as I am healthy mentally and physically, then it’s all right.

I am like a duck, what people think of me will slide right off and I will not worry about it, just like I won’t be a coward anymore. I am like a duck, not a chicken. I decide what my future looks like, and I chose it to be happy.

I got this duck cup to remind me all day at work to be a duck and not a chicken… I had not been at work for an hour before it cracked. Is that a good sign or a bad one?


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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