Saturday, March 8, 2014

Autism Answer: The Pursuit of "Meaningful Work"

Author's note: So, this post was inspired after I kept trying to comment on this other post, The Problem With Meaningful Work, by Bassam Tarazi. My comment kept disappearing, and I decided instead to write something I could share here with you! xoxo

When I was young I believed that I (and others) should only pursue "meaningful work"... and that any job or volunteering I did should always be part of an attempt to "do good" in the world, or "make a difference".

Growing up I watched my mom always, always, always include inspiration, behavior insights, creative ideas, honest revelations, and even brain science with a message into everything she did. Everything. And so I believed that whatever I did with my life would only be worthwhile if it was "important" and "inspiring".

Then, I grew-up. And I was introduced to reality. 

I found myself needing to pay bills, find housing, make supper. I watched my brothers struggle to hold onto any job, let alone a "meaningful" one. I worked with mom to find new and creative ways to teach my most disabled brother how to not eat all of the butter in every building we entered, and how to talk, and how to take a fair share of the food--not how to find a meaningful job. I met and married a man who spent his days working on cars, or maintaining machinery at a glass factory, and no matter how many times I asked if his work felt meaningful, he answered honestly and without hesitation,"Yes."

So now I still believe that I should pursue "meaningful work". But I also understand that meaningful work is something different for everyone, that it has no specific truth or guidelines.

My sister's meaningful work includes financial success and running a business with her husband, donating to causes, being able to afford classes and educational experiences for her daughters and taking comfortable, quality time talking deeply and honestly with them. My meaningful work includes helping my husband move cars and car parts, writing ideas and inspired thoughts down and then publishing for a world I hope to learn and connect with, revealing personal vulnerabilities and mistakes as a reminder to always grow and accept, being an active and available listener for my sons when they need to bounce ideas or heartbreak hurts around, looking for lessons and support. My sister and I are both doing different "meaningful work"... but we are both doing it!

There really is no specific or right definition of "meaningful work". So I went ahead and made one up for myself!

"Meaningful Work encourages you to discover and explore your ideas, talents, and beliefs. It is something that helps you feel and live your own value with such abundance that it can't help but spill over onto anyone connected to you!!" ~ME

I like my definition, because it's inclusive. No matter who you are, regardless of race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, legal status, health, educational background, physical appearance, or financial independence and/or success, you can pursue meaningful work! 

Both you and the world will be so glad you did!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton