Today I thought I’d look into an issue that I know a lot of us all share as a difficulty to some extent. Whatever your difficulty may be, who else gets nervous about, setting out on a new journey? Me too
So picture this. You aced the interview- even if you’re not entirely sure how- but congrats, you have the job! The thrill is amazing, you read up on all your facts and figures about the organisation, you pick your first-day outfit so you feel both comfortable, and confident. You even know what you’re having for lunch- to quite some detail. The next anxiety that comes along and hinders your idyllic path, is how you’re going to get there. If you are lucky you may have a friend or family member to drop you off exactly at the door, but I have never been that lucky (busy parents, for a start)
Now as I have had a range of both jobs and placements that have required me to plan a journey over the last few years, I have realised just how important and crucial this part of the preparation can be to ensure that I arrive to work on time, feeling comfortable, well-prepared, and as calm as I can possibly be. So I thought I would share with you one of my most pivotal experiences, and how I managed it. Ps. You do get to have a little giggle at me!
Before my first day working with the National Trust, I was super excited about the journey I’d have to embark on to get there. I did all the research, and even though I had been there so many times before, and I could read through the route and follow the visual (and!) audial maps, my brain is just no good at picturing these things in real life. So I used Google Maps and it’s super helpful ‘Go-To’ bit, and planned my exact route; I found the bus I’d need to catch, the different stops and where I’d need to be and where to change buses, even where I’d need to walk before and after the bus. The maps said I’d be on the bus for 1hr 45 which did seem a little long... But I never even questioned it.
On the day, I packed my special aspie-bus kit (including huge noise-blocking headphones, a wrap to sit on, surface wipes and hand sanitiser, a snack, a squeezy globe stress ball, and a smelly bar of soap for subtle nice smells if I get overwhelmed)- and headed for the bus! The first bit of the journey went really well, I was set to get there exactly 45 minutes early, yay! It got a little dodgy, however, when I looked out of the window and saw a view that looked scarily like the photo of my desired bus stop that I saw on Google Maps... Just, on the other side of the road.
Alarmed, I checked the time and I still had an hour and a half to go? After a panicked 20 seconds parked up here, my brain suddenly realised that all I had to do was catch a 15-minute bus ride, and cross the road, but my fixated aspie brain held me to the seat, telling me to undertake my planned journey, and so I did. I sat on the bus for an hour and a half, putting it to the side of my brain, and enjoying the journey in the way I’d planned. I arrived in the time I had planned as well, almost stress-free, but feeling like a bit of a plonker!
You are probably thinking on similar lines to my parents, which may be complete confusion as to why I didn’t just adapt and get off the bus, but the thing is, I did what helped me to function as best as I could. I knew I’d made a mistake, but I also knew that I would go home after work, knowing confidently where the bus route would take me and that I wouldn't make the same mistake again. Replan, refocus! Plus, if I had gotten off that bus then, I would have felt lost, confused, out of routine entirely, and would have been left with more free time to panic then I can even deal with. So despite this being a fairly humiliating experience, in hindsight I agree with the decision I made, and I learned from it. And I had some decent time to read my book on the top deck of a bus, with an amazing drive through parts of Plymouth I had never seen before- lots of trees!
So the lesson I learned here, and what I want to inspire others to focus more on, is planning that journey, maybe even getting someone you trust to look over it before you embark on it wholeheartedly! Have those things on hand that you may need to cope better with that journey (my so-called ‘aspie bus kit’). Even if you were gifted with the almost mystical skill of being able to adapt to an unexpected change on the spot, then also consider how you would maybe respond to a similar situation, there really is no single right way, as I came to realise!
You’ll thank yourself when you arrive at that new job, feeling calm, accomplished and ready to work! Go aspies🙌
PREVIOUS: Read my last blog post here: Blog Post 2: Time to Reflect