Thoughts and illustrations on living on the autism spectrum.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dreams or Happiness

My job search is over. Earlier this week I accepted an offer, and I start July 1. My policy has always been to mention my employer as little as possible on this blog, so if you want to find out where I’m going, please head over to Twitter, where I made the announcement.

My search lasted all of 34 days. I realize how incredibly lucky I am to find something so quickly in these difficult times. At the same time, it has been the longest five weeks of my life. If you have a stable job that supports your needs in life, please take a moment to be thankful. You can really take it for granted until one day, it's gone.

I am going to a nonprofit organization that does truly amazing work. It makes a meaningful impact nationwide, with a staff of about ten. It has grown from grass roots beginnings in response to an urgent and recognizable need. It offers me a new challenge, and potential for professional growth. I met most of the staff, and they took time to get to know me, and we mutually decided it was a good fit.

I’m leaving a place that does an ever-growing number of things, for a place that does one thing, and does it well. I’m leaving a job where I did too many things to count, for a job where I’ll do two things: write grants, and work with a database. It will be nice to get back to basics, and keep it simple, and grow from there. That’s why, of all the options available to me, I think I took the best one.

In the past, I’ve written here about wanting to work in the autism field, and called it my dream job. I’m not going to be doing that. But I did have the chance. And I turned it down. Because it just wasn’t the right fit.

I got lots of advice during my search. As decision time neared, two pieces of advice stuck in my head. The first was: “Remember to weigh the benefits all around. Happiness level, health benefits, money benefits etc.” The second was: “You realize there's no such thing [as a dream job], right? Grass on the opposite side of fences, as green as it may appear, may well appear so green because of bad chemicals that will ultimately make you quite ill.”

Ultimately, I made the choice that fit with my lifestyle. I chose a casual work environment, where one of the two offices is in a cottage next to a barn, with people who took the time to understand who I am and what I can do. I chose to go where I can come home in the evening and have time to go for a walk in the park, or work on my cartoons, or catch up with friends. I’m making sacrifices in other areas for these things, but from this vantage point, that’s true job satisfaction.

I wonder too, whether I’ll make a better advocate if I’m not living and breathing autism for a living. Very few bloggers do that, if any. Would I still like to work for an autism organization someday? I don’t know. I will continue to be an advocate, and for now, that’s good enough.

So what is a dream job? Is there any such thing? Even when we're sure we know what we want, it may not be the truth. Maybe a dream job is one where you like the things you do on a daily basis, where you have space and time for the personal life you want, and where you enjoy the people you work with. And just maybe, you make a few friends for life. If that’s the case, I’ve already been living the dream, and I’ll go on living it where I’m going.


  1. Congratulations on your new job.

  2. Congratulations, Matt,
    I hope your new job is as fulfilling as it is challenging. I have enjoyed reading about your job-search journey and your blog is always an inspiring read. I hope you will still find the time to write (and draw) for all of us followers! from an avid reader in sunny Ireland!♣, x

  3. Thanks Seshahotep and Polly - of course I plan to continue. Happiness for me includes writing and drawing.

  4. Just catching up on your blog and seeing this now (which makes my comment on your "tree" post a little irrelevant ... oh well). Congratulations and best of luck with the new position!