The last two years have been transformative for me and I haven’t wanted to admit that it was because of the pandemic. But it was. Right before the pandemic started, I joined a small startup business after having been laid off the week after Thanksgiving. I was going to make 2020 my year. I was going to push hard into my career, this blog, and a podcast. I pushed alright. And I focused on the pandemic ending soon. It didn’t end soon. I mean, we are still in it.
For all of 2020 and the majority of 2021, I was in denial about the impact that the pandemic was having on my life. Just like everybody, my way of life had changed. I had already worked from home, but now Eddie was home all day as well. I spent quite a bit of time outside in 2020, but almost all of my time inside for 2021 due to the heavy smoke from the California, Oregon, and Washington fires that covered northern Utah. I had quit drinking for about a year from some point in 2019 to some point in 2020. I handled the effects of alcohol very differently than what I had known. I was on meetings for work 8 to 9 hours a day and had little to no time to do the actual work that I needed to get done.
I hit a point in late 2021 where I was done. I was so burnt out that I wanted to escape my entire life. My instinct is to flee. To flee everything. Regardless of my love for people, every fiber in me told me to leave and go be by myself. So I went to therapy and opened up to Eddie. I overcame that instinct and learned more about myself.
Over the years I have realized that if I don’t get enough me time, I don’t function well around people. I’m an introvert and need me time. But there is more to it. I also experience anxiety that can send me into a rage of some sort depending on the situation. I hadn’t identified that the two might be linked and be something more than the fact that I’m broken. I have considered myself broken because I am so different than most of my friends, all of my family, and most people that I know. And then I saw a post by Jae (@againwiththeyelling) on TikTok. She had recently been diagnosed as Autistic. As an adult. As an adult woman.
Jae talked about her diagnosis and talks about her traits that were shrugged off for most of her life that she never knew were actually Autistic traits. I resonated with so many of these traits that I started doing research. I researched and I took online tests to gauge the likelihood that I could be Autistic. Everything I found led me to being able to self-diagnose as Autistic. I could stop there, but I’m not. I am currently going through the process of a formal diagnosis. Why? Because I know that most people in my life will not honor or believe my self-diagnosis. And because the process will also tell me if there are any other neurodivergent diagnoses that might be able to explain my traits.
I am not broken. I am neurodivergent.
At the same time of going through the testing process, I interviewed for and found a new role. A step back in title, a bump in pay, and the prospect of a drastically different work-life balance that I might thrive in. I’ve been absolutely burnt out with my Director role for various reasons that I will not share as I will not slander a company. I will tell you this, my values were challenged every single day and that wore on me more and more. I was at my breaking point.
As I was filling out the application so I could receive the official offer, I saw a chance. Ever since we moved in, my elderly neighbor has called me Crystie instead of Crystal. I liked it. I tried to correct her a couple of times, but my correction never stuck. I have hated my name for so, so long. I was able to change my last name when I married Eddie and I am thankful for that. I finally accepted my middle name after doing family research and learning about the use of the same middle name within Eddie’s family. But I have not been able to shake the feeling of disdain I have toward Crystal. I believe it is tied to the traumatic upbringing and getting yelled at so much, but I haven’t dove into that yet. What I can tell you is that when I saw the nickname field on the application, I saw a chance.
I filled in Crystie. Then I changed my personal email signature to Crystie. I’ve started using Crystie when ordering coffee. I feel a sense of excitement and playfulness when using Crystie. Eddie doesn’t like the way it is spelled, but he fully supports me. He calls me Babe anyways. I’ve only told two friends so far and they both support it. I don’t care if they didn’t.
As I leave my Director role and transition to my new company, I am bringing to life Crystal version 3.0. Version 1 was prior to marriage. Version 2 was marriage until now. Version 3 is now until the next time I change so much that I feel the need to draw a line.
Hello, I am Crystie and I am happy to meet you. Welcome back to Failing Imperfectly where life is always changing and I am always growing, even if I appear to be stuck. The blog is back, the podcast is not. I have missed writing to you, but I have not missed the pressure to perform. I will not be on a schedule, you’ll hear from me when I’m ready. Thank you for reading and I look forward to walking this journey with you.