Written by our Guest Author, Mellissa Mercury.
I’ve always been told that I’m unconventional. When faced with an office environment, I felt incredibly uncomfortable + always thought I did an okay job at hiding it. I observed the behaviour of others, picked up on body language, facial expressions + tone of voice, all a huge part of how we communicate.
I became a chameleon, like most successful sales people. I mirrored those around me + at times, almost had myself fooled. On paper, my sales career was excellent, I worked for international media companies, managed a team, had big brand clients + pulled off six figure deals; but no matter which company or medium I worked within, something always felt off… even when sitting underneath a sign proclaiming ‘Be You, Belong’. Being myself felt wrong.
Like a lot of people, the pandemic forced me to reframe my life. I’d just started a new job when the first lockdown happened, so no time to bond with my colleagues face to face. I found the switch to being reliant purely on email + WhatsApp jarring. I’ve always struggled to read between the lines so frantic messages at all hours of the day from faceless managers + clients could make my head spin. Without crystal clear instructions or the opportunity to ask questions, I quickly found myself drowning, with no support or escape rope. It wasn’t healthy.
Early in my career, I was often told that I’d misunderstood a situation. During the pandemic I’ve been told, as though I was a petulant child, that I asked too many questions. My frustrations grew. I could see ways of making things efficient but felt ignored.
After a year of overworking + bordering on burnout, I sought the advice of a careers adviser. A deep-dive into my career history, personal life + interests, threw up the possibility of me being on the spectrum. Automatically I wanted to shut the conversation down. I’ve always achieved good grades, have a high level of empathy + love being around people, so how could I be autistic?
I started researching + learnt about the difference in how autism typically presents itself in women vs men. Something clicked, this feeling of not fitting in + pretending to, wasn’t just imposter syndrome, it was ‘masking’ a common behaviour in women with autism + often done completely subconsciously.
I ended up contacting my local Mencap + had a positive screening for autism. Mencap work with adults with ‘high-functioning autism’ + in the last couple of years have seen a big increase in the number of women.
After my screening, I ended up leaving not only my job, but the entire sales + media industry. It didn’t fit my personality, all it did was amplify my feelings of being an outsider + made me feel drained.
For years I’ve been reading tarot cards as a hobby, I don’t claim to be a psychic, but feel tarot is more psychology. The cards simply present you with a version of reality, if you can relate + see a way to take the advice on board, that’s great, equally if your instinct takes over + you want the opposite from the advice given, then you’ve also learnt something really powerful – the ability to trust your gut instinct.
Tarot has been a transformational tool in not only my journey to connect with my autism, but as a way for me to unpack my anxieties, explore my mental health + feel empowered when faced with difficult decisions.
While my ability to see from a different perspective was not a right fight for the corporate world, with tarot I’m able to channel this into something beautiful. I’ve read the cards for over 1,000 clients from all walks of life, my empathy + outside the box thinking has helped others understand themselves in a new way.
My journey here is just beginning but already I’ve been privileged to read tarot at Latitude Festival, started a residency at Lost Boys in Camden, where I also teach classes on how to read tarot + as a guest reader at private + corporate parties.
I’m much happier in life now that I don’t have to stress about holding myself to a standard which wasn’t authentic. I understand that autism is a condition for life, I’ve always had it + always will, so rather than suppress it, I’m embracing it. It is my superpower + I’m on a mission to empower others to champion their differences + find the positives in situations which otherwise could be overwhelming.