Just Stop Asking

Right now one of my main triggers for social anxiety is having to constantly answer the question, ‘so what are you doing at the moment?’. My automatic response is normally ‘not much’ but it seems this is insufficient for the majority of inquisitors. Even neuro-typicals can’t grasp the hint that I’m responding briefly because I don’t want to discuss it, so they tend to follow up with something along the lines of, ‘so what are you planning on doing in the future?’.

I feel as though I’ve been asked these questions an awful lot in the past few weeks and it is becoming painstakingly frustrating having to constantly explain my PhD ideas to people, who don’t have any knowledge of my industry so don’t understand a word of what I’m saying. It’s even more frustrating to then having to explain why I’m not currently doing a doctorate and probably won’t be for quite a while.

You see, the long answer to the initial question would be that, after being forced into a year of hiatus due to ill health, I’m bit by bit trying to get my life back on track. Working out where I want to go and how best to get there without over-exerting myself physically or emotionally. I’m rebuilding the confidence I have not just in my health but in my abilities as well, persuading myself that responding to opportunities is better than ignoring them due to my overbearing fear of rejection. Each day I wake up, I get dressed and if I’m lucky I leave the house. If not I do a bit of drawing, animating or knitting and an awful lot of overthinking.

The truth of the matter is I’m doing a lot, but on paper it doesn’t seem that way. For people who aren’t aware of my medical history and the fact that I spent most of 2019 fearing for my life, it’s hard to understand why 18 months after graduating I still don’t have a job and I’m not actively looking for one.

Although most people ask the question because they’re either genuinely interested or just want to start a conversation, for me it is painful to answer. Every time I do I have to admit just how much my conditions are holding me back, re-accept my deficits and everything I’m consequently not achieving. All in all I am super proud of myself, despite battling seizures, anxiety, depression and discrimination my entire life, I still got myself a Masters! Yet I don’t meet the societal expectations and probably never will.

I know everyone travels at their own pace, towards their own destination. And I am confident, for the first time in a while, that I will eventually reach my full potential. It’s just difficult to discuss whilst I’m still travelling up a very steep, uphill road.