I swore I wouldn’t get political. I swore that I would keep my opinions about what’s going on in America to myself. I swore to not let it bleed out onto social media.
But after Monday night and seeing some of the fallout from the presidential debate, I have to say something because this is galling.
I do not make it a secret that I am someone who lives with a variety of mental illnesses that debilitate my ability to live a normal, functional, adult life. The doctors, therapists, school counselors, and teachers I have encountered over the past twenty-three years have described it as thus: generalized anxiety with social phobias and some shades of agoraphobia, chronic depression or bipolar type II, sensory processing issues, and “(vague gesturing) Somewhere on the autism spectrum” due to elements of ADHD and Asperger’s being expressed, chronically, as early as four, five years-old; since all three (well, two, with Asperger’s expulsion from the DSM) exist on, well. A spectrum.
What a rat’s warren of words. It’s easier to lay everything out in the context of day-to-day functionality. I’ve found that examples and comparisons work the best when explaining it to others.
After Monday night’s debate, I now have a short-hand way to refer to how I interview for job positions: Donald Trump’s performance in the first presidential debate, without the interruptions, talking over, and snarky comments.
Bullet points are nice and easy to read, so please allow me to explain this comparison further:
- Persistent and uncontrollable tics. Trump’s snorting is practically a meme at this point. My hand-flapping and frequent gesticulation, most especially when I’m anxious and trying to collect my thoughts in a conversation, is just as noticeable.
- Inability to answer questions. Trump went off on tangents and, from all appearances, seemed to forget the question while trying to navigate through the sheer mess of what he was saying. This is likely my biggest problem when interviewing: My brain is in panic mode, “fight or flight and I just want to flight from this room” so I can hardly listen and process what I’m being asked. But to sit there in silence while trying to pull my thoughts and understanding together is an interview no-no; I need to say SOMETHING so I will go off on the first thought I have that may or may not result to the bulk of the question. For example: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” My brain is like “OKAY so we need to say STUFF RELATING TO THIS COMPANY while also EMPHASIZING STRENGTHS” so I will talk about my writing and computer abilities. Only that’s what I get stuck on talking about. I catch myself, mid-tangent, but I cannot remember the question. I remember “FUTURE” and so I talk about how awesome learning to program would be or maybe becoming a therapist to help people who are like me and HOLY SHIT I cannot stop talking until I manually cut myself off. And leave the point awkwardly hanging.
- Similar to that mess up there, I over-emphasize the points that my panicky brain thinks are good. So the answer might just turn into “In the FUTURE I will be a published author while still advancing the FUTURE goals and mission statement of your company all in the FUTURE.” Complete, of course, with physical hand gestures and syllabic stressing. How much did Trump want to emphasize his PROPERTIES and ENDORSEMENTS on Monday night?
- Inability to control facial reactions. Trump read, to me, as contemptuous but overwhelmed, just on facial expressions. I saw no composure, no poise, and, certainly, not a shred of dignity. When an interviewer asks me a question that prompts thoughts of “oh shit how do I answer this” my expression is…”oh shit how do I answer this.” Just as composed, poised, and dignified.
It’s no small wonder, then, that every single job that I have interviewed, with only a resume preceding the interview, I am never called back. After all, with the job market the way it is, someone with my education, my capabilities, my capacity to learn, my writing abilities…Most certainly, that candidate has also applied. But that candidate doesn’t have a panic attack in the interview room. That candidate is able to approach the interview as a conversation, a dialogue, and present themselves as someone who doesn’t crack under pressure. Me? I’m trying to end the experience as quickly (but politely) as possible so I can have a panic attack in the car and thank every God and angel I can think of that it’s over. I certainly won’t get the job but the interview is OVER and the danger is GONE. And, in that state of mind, that’s all that matters.
The only jobs that I have held had tests to complete before submitting the application. The teller job? Mathematical test. Call center job? A multiple choice test navigating heavily-idealistic inbound customer calls. Data entry job? They wanted a minimum 30 WPM and I just tested at 80+ WPM. I would not be surprised that those who have hired me, even after the catastrophic interviews, they look at the tests and say, “Well, she’s a disaster in-person, but holy crap does she kick our testing standards in the teeth.”
With all this in mind, I have to admit, I’m shocked that people looked at Donald Trump’s performance Monday night and declared him the winner. Not even considering Hillary Clinton’s performance. They saw Donald Trump press his case for becoming President of the United States of America with all the grace of a young woman with a debilitating anxiety disorder.
And people judged him capable of being the President.
So, I would like to ask the job interviewers who judge Donald Trump’s performance as acceptable, even laudable:
How about you hire me?