If you are on social media–specifically Facebook, you know that Facebook will show you “memories” from past posts on a given day. Recently, it’s been showing me posts and photos from what I think was very much a breakthrough day in the start of my career–spending 36 hours in Portland, OR at LavaCon 2012. I had done a webinar in about four months prior for Adobe, as someone who used to be in their marketing team discovered me, and had me participate in their webinar series at the time. But it was Adobe’s invitation to “cover” Adobe Day the day before the big start of LavaCon for this blog that was my first real introduction into the tech comm universe–I guess you can say my “debut to” tech comm society (like a debutante of sorts). There, I met many people that I had only known through social media, and remain friends with them to this day. Seven months or so from this writing will mark the 10th anniversary of the first STC Summit that I attended in Atlanta (which ironically will be in Atlanta again this year), and met a whole bunch more people similarly.
What’s hanging on in my mind is the journey I’ve had to take from that point at LavaCon 2012 to now…how many job changes I’ve had, how many dry spells of unemployment I’ve had, how many jobs that were good or bad, my adventures with STC and other tech comm outlets, and finally, all the people. I mean, some people that I met at LavaCon in that very short spell there are still friends who I rely on, and who I consider mentors. Same with those I met at my first Summit. Some of them gave me exposure and breaks to help me find jobs along the way and foster my writing. Sometimes, I’ve learned things that were not tech comm related that have either been set by example or were a good life skill. I think the point is that–WOW! Over the last 10 years, I’ve met SO many people in the tech comm field that have supported me along the rough road I’ve had to take along the way to get to where I am now, who didn’t give up on me when I had given up on myself. Hence, to get to where I am now, it’s been “a climb”.
These days, I’m in a good place professionally. For the moment, I like being a full-time employee, which I really haven’t been for more than 22 years (since before my son was born). I’m fortunate in that I get to work remotely, as this has always been important so I could be flexible and available for my family. I get to flex my tech comm muscles, and I feel like I do my job well, and have gained the trust of those I work with. I reflect on both the good contracts and not-so-good contracts I had, and how they’ve all helped me focus on what I do best, learn skills along the way, and figure out what I really want from my career. I’ve also advanced to being elected as a board director for the STC with some hard work, a lot of support, and some luck thrown in there, too. All the tech comm friends I’ve had along the way have supported me both professionally and with my STC endeavors, and that’s been a big help.
The one area that is suffering right now, however, is my sanity as a parent. I’ve written often about my son over the years. You would think that as a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome who’s had so much support over many years, he’d be in a good spot. However, we’ve hit a big snag. He’s SO close to being done with his degree, but his program requires working at FOUR internships (basically, working for about 18 months as an apprentice) during his participation in the program. He’s made two attempts at working, and he never gets past working a full week. For him, working three eight-hour days plus two days of classes is just too much. He’s also putting a lot of pressure on himself because he feels he needs to be “perfect” or at least better than any other newbies there so that he can stand out, but he can’t keep up with the pace. He’s spent more time in a dealership bathroom crying than I think most people ever have! He’s just not ready for that. So far, the director of the program is allowing him to continue to take classes, but he’s not so flexible with this internship thing. He’s also not helpful, as it’s obvious that my son needs to be in an environment where accuracy of the work supersedes speed, which is not the environment of your average car dealership. The program director insists that the students need to find jobs on their own–which my son has done twice now, but he won’t help give us any leads for someone who might be a better fit for my kid so that he can gain some confidence and experience. We’re expected to figure out how to do this on our own. We’re all frustrated with this situation, to say the least. It’s actually giving me PTSD.
My husband and I have been looking for alternative programs where my son could transfer his credits. We’re also at a point where we’re trying to find alternative majors or training for my son, because his interest and confidence in his current major is waning. With his very, VERY narrow set of interests and a huge lack of motivation, this is proving very difficult.
I’ve been suffering from burnout syndrome for a long time, and I’m just so used to it that I truly don’t know how to full relax. I recently read that parents of special needs children that are higher functioning often have more stress than those who are much more dependent. So right now, my stress is so bad that I’m starting to not only do the usual of losing sleep and being grumpy and have the occasional eye twitching, but now my body is throwing in the occasional heart palpitations when I’m not even doing anything that stresses me out. That can’t be good.
So, while I’ve come so far because of the professional support I’ve gotten towards an important part of my life–establishing a solid career, now I have to figure out how to find the support to keep parenting and help my kid so that he can find some success himself.
It’s still a climb to balance this work/life thing. I’ve got the work thing down now, thankfully, and hopefully it stays this way for a long while. But this life thing…UGH.