Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Problem with Everything

This title is broad, isn't it? I used the word "everything" so does this mean that everything is wrong? That's not the intent of this post. Instead, the problem with everything is in terms of seeing everything.

One of the reasons I love working the race series as I do are the conversations I get to have with so many intriguing people. This past weekend at the INDYCAR race at Texas I had a conversation with someone that didn't know I was on the autism spectrum but that then spurred a conversation about neurodiversity and the strengths, weaknesses, and challenges everyone has. As we talked more, and stories were shared, I talked about how people on the autism spectrum in the racing environment is a strength, but the exact same gift is an extreme challenge outside the track.

At the track the gift is being able to see almost everything and calculate what's going to happen. Truly, it's such a great advantage, but that same advantage turns into a challenge in many different aspects of life. Take writing a book, for example. I'm 30,000 words into writing a book about my career in racing. Think of it like Finding Kansas but more employment and story based. It's been an awesome thing to write, however, it's become a challenge more and more as I see where I need to go with it from where I am at now. To make a concept, think of it as setting out from New York City and you're headed west to, say, Kennewick, Washington. You've got several days of driving ahead of you on your 2,712-mile journey. If you were excited from the road trip alone you could leave NYC with an air of excitement. However, if you were trying to analyze each mile from the onset it would be overwhelming. Are you going to make it to mile 400 without a stop? Will you average 950 or 1050 miles per day? How many food stops and at what exit number will it be at? Did you adjust for time zones in your estimates? What about fuel calculations? Will the higher elevations be kind to that, or will it hinder your calculations? 

I'll spare you more and more potential things to think about on your hypothetical cross country trip, but if you were to look at every possible hiccup, stop, and variable that could knock off your predictions, well, it would be a trip that would be overwhelming even before you took the green flag. This is the challenge that myself, and so many on the autism spectrum face. Think about the employment roadmap; it can be an extremely difficult task to stay motivated at a job that isn't the most desirable yet is on the path to the desired spot. If one is seeing the entire journey from the onset and all the time, energy, and potential headaches that could arise, the goal of the journey will be lost. This is the problem with seeing everything.

As mentioned many times, it's estimated the unemployment rate for those with Asperger's is around 80%. This includes those that have graduated collage! I look at myself and the 25 years it took to get my dream job in racing and thankfully for myself the journey to where I wanted to end up was something I thoroughly enjoyed so there wasn't the fretting over seeing everything. This is one of the primary reasons trying to find a career in the field that one's Kansas is in (Kansas is a concept I created. It's the area of interest or knowledge that a person on the spectrum will want to talk about or take part in to the exclusion of everything else) is so vital. If one does find that combination, then there's a chance they won't be overwhelmed with the proverbial trip to Kennewick. There's a chance that, instead of looking at all the potential variables, they instead look at what all could be seen and enjoyed on the trip. And most of all, what was a problem with everything could turn into a strength of everything and they'll be allowed to show their talents and truly shine.

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