Thank goodness for second chances

You’ll have your share of naysayers when you’re neurodivergent.

When I first enrolled in the Social Work Program, I had a professor who didn’t like me. She went out of her way to try and get me to drop out of the program.

It was the early 1990’s and about a decade before I’d learn I had Asperger’s and ADHD. I was introverted and socially awkward.

I was blunt, guarded and often kept to myself. I was labeled arrogant and unapproachable by classmates.

They complained to this professor about me and I was called to her office.

To paraphrase her, I wasn’t “social” enough, I needed to change my behavior. She didn’t tell me what I was doing wrong nor what I needed to do instead.

I reached out to some of my classmates to apologize and ask what I could do differently. Some expressed surprise that I addressed the issue so directly.

Their responses were vague. They gave me general answers that referred to my style of speaking (e.g. bluntness). But didn’t offer specific examples.

Without the guidance I needed I became increasingly ostracized. I decided to leave the program as it became a toxic environment for me.

Over the next 5 years I tried various odd jobs and even a different major. Until one day it hit me. I’d only be happy doing social work.

I shared my realization with my then wife and she encouraged me to go for it. The catch was, I’d need the permission of the same professor to rejoin the program. She was the Dean of it at this point.

I’d done a lot of growing in those 5 years and the professor and I were able to clear the air about some things. She let me back in and I had a wonderful experience.

All these years later (15 and counting). I’m grateful I took a second chance and grateful I received one. Not every closed door remains closed forever.

Sometimes it means you aren’t ready. You need to take time to do some work before trying again.

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