January 16, 2021

Is autism my glass ceiling?

By rosieweldon

Soon I will be a chartered accountant with a master’s degree in ‘business management in financial services’. But what is the point of any of it if Autism will always be my glass ceiling?

I have recently been offered a new role within Exchequer. I am excited to start, but terrified for the transition period. It involves moving offices and leaving everything familiar behind. Leaving everything safe, behind.

I have accepted that to pursue the roles I want and progress in my career there will be change, change is inevitable for growth.

What I didn’t expect was a ‘change bomb’ to be dropped on me on Monday morning.

I was called into a meeting and told that the office I was currently sat in was all going to change, and it was best I go to my new office, that day, that afternoon.

My brain imploded at her words. No. That wasn’t the plan. That’s my desk. I wasn’t ready.

It doesn’t matter how sorry the person is for the unexpected change and it doesn’t matter how much they want to help and support me through it. It won’t stop my minds reaction.

I lost control as my mind spiraled. That was my director sat opposite me, keep your shit together Rosie. I could feel my ability to be verbal getting weaker and weaker. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to say no, I’m not ready.

My boss is incredible, and the plan was made that I would go for a walk after the meeting, she knew I needed to get out of the office and break down in private. Then I would skip lunch and instead leave at 3pm. This meant I would be out of the office when the move happened, and I would start the next day at my new desk.

Just before I left my boss showed me my new desk so I could visualise it that night. The most infuriating part of the day is how much better off I will be in a quiet, naturally lit and open office with a desk on the end. It’s not even a bad change. It’s a bloody good one I am excited for. But change is change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s good change. It doesn’t matter how sorry the person is. There is nothing I could do to stop that reaction. My brain can not process change in real time, it can’t cope. It needs time to process and rationalise it.

I am sat here at half 3. I should be at work. Even accounting for a skipped lunch, I should still be working until half 4. I feel like I have let Exchequer down, my director down, my team down. I feel sick of not being able to do stuff others don’t even think about. I’m sick of autism and I don’t want it to ruin my career.

Where can my career possibly go when I can’t even handle change? Am I forever capped by autism?

Some days I’d give anything to not be autistic.

To just be normal.

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