Dear readers of all wonderful kinds,
In my last post I mentioned how excited I was that I had finally found a part time job that seemed actually doable despite my disabilities. Whether that is true or not has yet to be determined, but after my two shadow days, I am worried that I am leaning towards the not side, and I am quickly turning from excited to ashamed and disappointed. Maybe I am just intimidated, maybe I’m not, but either way, this is not a great feeling.
It’s a rude awakening when I am a 25, intimidated by a job that a 17 year old has been doing for a year. Watching her work she was smart, intuitive,and able to multi-task with ease. She was awesome about training me about what I had to do and how to do it, and I am thankful that I had her rather than just being “thrown to the sharks,” for lack of a less cliche phrase. As I watched her and followed her about, the whole time I was thinking, “can I actually handle this?”
I have not had many jobs in my life; I began to work as a babysitter and dog-sitter because even at the young age of 19, it seemed that employers already expected me to have a good amount of experience which I lacked because of chronic illness. The only job I could end up getting was from my mother’s friend, watching her two children, their dog and their bunny (who I came to truly love and who I have missed since moving). My mother’s friend ended up becoming my advocate for babysitting jobs, and soon I had three main families I would help as an on call babysitter and/or dogsitter. Once in a while I would work for other families, too. When I was 22 I enrolled with a nannying agency, who set me up with a family I stayed with for nearly two years until I moved away last summer. Somewhere in between those jobs, I worked as a Desk Attendant at my college’s tutoring center, another job I very much enjoyed, but it was only for a semester since I didn’t think to work at the school until my final year there.
Babysitting was a job that I could mostly handle; but many tasks like housework, driving long distances to and from places that the kids needed to be, and keeping up with the children in general was too much for my body and mind to handle, and I ended up coming home entirely depleted. Now with my resume only consisting of my two Associates Degrees and childcare, I am told constantly by employers and others that childcare is not a “real job.” Parents of all ages and nannies alike, feel free to scream bloody murder and throw your computer/phone/Ipad out the fucking window. I am not sure what is it about taking care of children that people think is easy, but I assure you being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs any person would accept. And parents don’t even get paid for it. At least nannies do…but, I am deviating.
With most aspects of my life I find that the more I try to assimilate into what we are often told is the standard way of life, the more I fail. Whether it is trying to look like a “normal” girl or have what is considered to be a “real” job, I just can’t seem to be absorbed into this weird ideal of existence our culture pushes; an ideal that to this day I still barely understand. While much of this is due to my chronic illnesses, I think a large part of it is also because of just me.
When I take away all of my pain and all of my illness, what’s left is my core (this reminds me so much of Rise of The Guardians. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a beautiful movie). I’m not sure yet exactly what that entirely consists of, but I do know that it has always been odd. I’ve never been skilled at making myself normalize. Yes, I am well aware that most people at their jobs cannot be themselves because you are there to work, not to be yourself. But there are also a few jobs where you can be yourself and actually have some sort of happiness and honesty, especially if you create the job yourself. I suppose 90% of human beings can stand not being themselves at work, because at a certain point, choosing between that and starving to death or losing your home is kind of a no brainer, which is why I have been desperately scouring craigslist for nearly a year.
As I write, I worry I am not articulating well enough what I really mean to say, because this particular issue is so terribly difficult to explain. I feel that every moment of my life is drenched in conflict. I don’t think I am better than anyone else. I don’t think I have some Batman style destiny awaiting me. But I also don’t believe that I fit into the 9 to 5 cycle. I can’t describe myself by the adjectives we are told are winning keywords in interviews. I am constantly at war between what I need to do to survive physically (I need to pay bills), what I need to do to survive mentally (I need to be mentally somewhat happy, and pay bills), and what I want to do (???, and pay bills) to balance those out. I am thankful that I got a job, because while it still won’t give me anywhere near enough to survive, it gives me more than what I currently have. At the same time, I am deeply bothered by the person I am when I’m in a place I so clearly don’t belong in. My skin crawls when I have to hide everything that I am, especially when the past two years has been all about me exploding from my shell and trying to be the most genuine version of myself. The more I discover myself, the harder it is becoming to push myself down, censor and hide.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times more; being a human is at times grueling. There’s so much to figure out, so much to experience and understand, yet we are rarely given adequate supplies or ability to do any of it. Add disability and anxiety to an already complicated circumstance and it only makes the mix that more chaotic. I don’t know what I am supposed to do when I don’t know where I belong, but I know I don’t seem to belong anywhere.
I want to work a normal job and make money that aids in my survival. I want to have a job I truly love that I create myself, that helps others and brings a fuckton of happiness into this world. I want to stay in bed and just hide from having to be a big, scary adult.
I hope I figure this out someday, and don’t spend my entire life thinking about it, because then I will have done nothing at all.
*another dramatic sigh*
I’ve got no strings to hold me down,
to make me fret, or make me frown.
I had strings, but now I’m free.
There are no strings on me.