Change is hard. Over the last couple of months, so many things have changed, and I seem to be having a hard time catching up with my own life. I moved from Washington state to North Carolina. Then started working my first job since becoming disabled. That didn’t work out. I didn’t prepare myself for the troubles I would go through or the confidence problems that would arise.
During this job I was so upset with myself for not being able to do the things I use to do. I would work off the clock to make up for the things I couldn’t quickly grasp. I was working from the time I woke up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night, but only clocked on for 8 hrs a day. I worked weekends and sometimes I would be up until 3am just to get things done before having to start the next day. Before my brain infection, I was a very quick learner and was confident in the things I was going to take on. So It was hard for me accept that things were going to be different. I didn’t take the time to get use to our new state. I didn’t get established with any doctors. I jumped right in because I just wanted to feel like I was capable of the things I was once capable of. The job I took on was not the right fit for me, but I was willing to do anything to make it work so I could say I succeeded and that my new way of life; living with a disability, wouldn’t actually change what I was capable of. This was a very unhealthy way of doing things.
So, I kept searching and applying to jobs. I got hired for one that was out of my comfort zone but that I am much more capable of. Theres’s repetition and a step-by-step layout of what I need to do. Which leads to me not questioning if what I’m doing it right or wrong because it’s completely laid out. With where my brain is at, these are things I need in order to be successful. And I’ve realized that not only is that ok, but it feels so good to be able to do something that’s just for me. Something to make me feel like I’m contributing to my family. Something that makes me feel somewhat of how I use to.
Even with this job being everything I was looking for in a job description, I had to take it a step further and request a meeting with HR to discuss possible accommodations. This was my first ever meeting with HR, and my first time having to write a list of the things I would need, in order to make my job possible. It was one of the scariest things I have ever had to do. But man was it worth it. Not only were all my accommodations met, but they started making accommodations I didn’t know I needed. During the last year this has been one of the most rewarding and confidence boosting things I’ve done. I feel like I have some independence again. Like I can try to make new goals even though the goals I have had for so long are no longer a possibility, at least for now.
With how accommodating my job has been, it made me really look at things from a different perspective. When I was fully able bodied and was filling out applications, I would see the question, “are you disabled?” I always had such pain in my heart seeing this, because I thought it was a way for the companies to push that application to the side and go on to the next one. I have been terrified to apply for jobs because of this. “Do I mark disabled and not even have a chance to show my worth? Or do I not mark it and just deal with it all as it comes?” Things will be different with every company you work for. You may run into those companies that will let you work off the clock so they don’t have to pay you for needing extra help, just as my previous place of employment did. Then still make you feel like you can’t do what is needed. THIS IS NOT THE COMPANY YOU WANT TO WORK FOR. I cannot stress this enough. Do not let your want to succeed make you settle for less than you are worth. There are other jobs. Jobs that you will love more with bosses that will respect you for who you are, and coworkers who want to be part of your success.
Someone very close to me often says, “It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s how you fix them.” Letting fear control your life is one of those mistakes that you can come back from. Fear of change, fear of judgement, fear of failure. You just have to prove to YOURSELF how strong you are. I had been thinking about having a meeting with HR but was too afraid of people around me thinking I wasn’t successful because I couldn’t do things the way others could. After really thinking about it, I realized how far I have come over the last year. I thought about how doctors told me it would take years for me to be able to work again, and here I am not even a full year post brain infection and I have come this far. How much would any of my progress even matter to me, if I let other people determine my strength based on if I could do a job like everyone else, with no accommodations. Its ok to be afraid, but letting that fear control you limits so many possibilities.
Asking for help doesn’t make you unsuccessful, it shows that you know yourself enough to guarantee your own growth and success.