We Are More Than One Thing & So Are Our Careers

Hi Everybody,

Today we’re going to do something a little different. Instead of talking about disabilities I want to discuss another topic, identity.

One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard was a simple three words. “Diversify your identity” – Hank Green. It’s a simple bit of advice really, but it’s never talked about.

As a 22-year-old, I and everyone around me are struggling with the classic issues of ‘what to do with my life?’. It’s a tough conundrum that I never think that there’s an answer for it – or at least not a simple one. But it seems to me that it’s the wrong question.

People usually choose their carer based on their identity. For example, one identifies themselves as a writer they often chose to be a novelist or blogger. If your identity is in how smart you are and your love for chemistry, you may choose to be a biochemist. These are all great decisions, but I think what the struggle is the idea that we’re meant to do or be one thing for the rest of our lives. Being a biochemist forever can seem overwhelming and suffocating. That notion is drilled into us from the second we can communicate. It’s one of the first things that people ask to make conversation. Kids always seem to say the classic ‘Rockstar’ or ‘actor’. It’s then that the seed of being one thing forever gets planted. From that second, constantly grows. Cut to now when everyone is freaking out, all because we have to abide by this societal rule. One career type until we die

What no one seems to acknowledge is that there have been teachers who turned into comedians. Actors who have become nurses, and everything in between. See, no matter what everyone claims, humans aren’t designed to live their life with only one goal. You have a goal for right now and see what happens. All of these goals usually revolve around identity.

Most people talk to me for an hour and see that my identity is wrapped up in my disability and writing. However, we as a race are not that simple. My identity also comes from God, being a nerd, psychology, creating projects and a plethora of other things. Right now, my goal is to be a novelist. But in ten years who knows where or what I will be? I may be a teacher, or a disability advocate, or a podcaster, or a scientist. All of the things I do in my life, all the career shifts and different ideas will not be a mistake. They will all be a part of my journey and what I needed at that time.

Identity is flexible but the danger comes from it being based on only one thing. That is where Hank’s quote becomes so important. If my writing career got ripped away from me, it would be horrible. However, I know that I would survive and that my future has options past this writing. I know that who I am is more important than my career. If we diversify our identity, there is so much more out there for us. We deserve to explore that.

Please don’t buy into the lie that one thing defines us. That our career decisions at 18 are the ones we must stick with. Go with your joys and passions. Breathe because there is more to your life than what you see right in front of you. Take it one day at a time.

I hope that you guys didn’t mind me stepping away from the disability topic this week. Thank you for reading.

Please, remember to be kind to yourself and those around you.

Bethany

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Disabilities Produce Anxiety in Unexpected Ways

Hello Everybody,

Last night I found myself in a tailspin of anxiety that made me cry for about an hour. It sounds dramatic, and if I’m being honest it was. You see, I went to the pharmacist to pick up my prescription. When I got home, I saw that the medication was different from my normal ones. Technically, they were the same medication, however, the brand was different. I’ve talked before about how I have had reactions from changes to medications. It wasn’t a pleasant time. In fact, it was only a month ago when my last round of reactions happened. Hence the panic when once again my medications were altered.

After I calmed down, this experience got me thinking. Anxiety often goes hand in hand with disabilities. This works in two-fold.

Firstly, there is anxiety towards people and going outside. I have talked about this before, but it is so important. Going anywhere new is absolutely terrifying. Not knowing if you will even be able to get in the place or if you’ll have to make everyone change their plans for you. It’s a horrible feeling, and to be honest it makes me not want to try anything new. If it’s not the anxiety, it’s the guilt of ruining my friend’s plans.

On top of that, going out is anxiety provoking based on the people around me. Depending on the situation, places can often feel claustrophobic and crowded. As a wheelchair user, I am shorter than almost everyone around me. As a result, when the place is crowded, I am often avoiding handbags and elbows. Unfortunately, that often means that I am hit in the face without the people noticing what they did.

Anxiety plays a role in going out beside the physical challenges. Every time I’m in public I can feel that niggling in my chest as anxiety goes from a tackle to a giant ball. I get nervous about the public around and how they will react to me. Will they stare? Will they make a rude comment or threaten me for the hundredth time? Will I be unsafe? There have been many times throughout my life where I haven’t felt safe in public due to my disability. It makes me often wonder if that will ever stop; will I be stuck in this cycle forever?

The second part of this disabled related fear has nothing to do with people. The anxiety, at least for me, one inside my body. Getting a disability isn’t exactly rare, however, there are a lot of more able people in the world. For a long time, I felt as if my body had betrayed me. If it could do that once who knows what else might happen. I don’t so much now, however, I am aware that having my disability opens me up to a myriad of complications. For example, I’m more likely to have a seizure than any abled, healthy person. I’m high risk for blood clots, including fatal ones, and many others. The medications increase all of these risks and add new ones. So, as I’m sure you can imagine anxiety is very high in disabled communities. To be honest, it sucks. But I also think it’s important to share because I need people to see that they aren’t alone! You are not crazy for being anxious, you’re allowed to be. But also, please go get the help you deserve. This doesn’t have to be forever. You can do this.

Until I see you next, please be kind to one another and to yourself.

Bethany

The Last Year & a Half Nearly Destroyed Me

Hello, my dear readers, 

I hope that 2019 is treating you well! Happy valentines to those who celebrate & have partners! If you don’t, that’s okay, neither do I! Honestly though, boys are overrated so eh. (I would insert that emoji with the sassy girl, but computers don’t work like that. But know that’s what I’m feeling right now!)

Anyway, back on topic, the title if this post seems really intense, I promise it isn’t, try and stick with me. For me, the year has been hectic. I mean on the tenth of January, I literally spent the whole day thinking that we were in May! The ins and outs of my craziness aren’t all that important, right now. To me, what’s important is the fact that it’s currently 12:10 in the morning. My eyes are stinging, and my legs are beginning to swell from exhaustion. Don’t worry, this isn’t cause for panic it happens often for me. However, it’s thoroughly inconvenient. I’m supposed to be up early tomorrow but now I may bail because, if I’m lucky enough to get to sleep, I want to stay in that for as long as I can. 

Why don’t I go to sleep instead of writing this? I hear you ask. Good question, unfortunately, I can’t sleep. A fun side effect of my condition is lots of muscle spasms. All day I’ve been having stomach ones which forces me to be in a constant state of nausea. Also, because I’ve been busy my leg spasms have been more intense than usual. So, instead of going to sleep I’m using a combination of writing this and a Brooklyn Nine-Nine binge to distract me. Before I continue, I must say this, you don’t need to feel sorry for me. I am okay, I am happy, and I love my life. The reason I decided to share this with you is that this is a part of my reality — as is with millions of people. So, today, I’m allowing you into some of the hardest moments of my last two-and-a-bit years.

It all started in November 2016. I was heading into finals for university and studying all hours. That meant lack of sleep and a thousand contemplations of dropping out. (Don’t judge me, we’ve all thought about it at major stress points in all of our degrees). All of this led to me having one of the worst colds of my life. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I knew that I was run down, and I figured that I would do my exams, rest and I would get better. Except, the getting better part never happened. Instead, I got worse. I would sleep almost all day; my body was in a constant state of heaviness and eyes bloodshot. I couldn’t stay awake through lectures, church, movies or anything at all. My pain was at an all-time high, and the doctors were out of solutions. All of this had been brought on by my Cerebral Palsy. My doctor explained it to me like this: for me to do anything it takes three times the energy than an abled person to do the same thing. My body is fighting pain and trying to do normal body functions at the same time. It’s all too much that my body cannot function in the same way as abled people. As to why it happened when it did, who knows? I guess my body had enough of forcing itself to work this hard.

Cut to June 2017, I had started to learn how to manage this new life of oversleeping and pain levels. I was feeling somewhat optimistic about the next few months. Although looking back, that optimism may have actually been denial. I had just graduated from my BA in Psychological Science and landed a part-time job as a receptionist at a psychology clinic. I was lost at the time, I had no idea what my future would be, all I knew was that I didn’t want to work as a psychologist. I had that job for about a month until giving me shifts that suited my physical abilities was too difficult for them, so I had to leave. 

It’s been eighteen months since that job and it’s been hard. I haven’t been able to work and instead I’ve spent my days sleeping, writing, and hoping things will change. Don’t get me wrong there’s been good days. Sometimes, I can be beyond productive, I can see friends, I go and wheel up hills, and write three chapters in an afternoon. But those days are rare. Most days have been me struggling to get out of bed and if I do, I drag my feet around and feel like a zombie. My mind cloudy and unable to process full sentences. It’s made me lose friends who believe that “I’m not trying hard enough” or, “I don’t value their friendship.” Of course, those thoughts weren’t true, but they were not able to believe that. The people who didn’t leave would insist, “I didn’t look sick, so I should be better.” However, that was because I only see people (who don’t live with me) on my good days. No one sees me when I’m in screaming levels of pain and too exhausted to eat.

All of that brings me to now, February of 2019. My health remains the same, as is everything I do (although, I have created an addiction to jigsaw puzzles). However, my mentality has changed. To be honest, I’m bored, I am so freaking bored. Seriously, doing almost nothing for almost two years is mind numbing. So, this year I am taking a terrifying leap. I am going back to university, in two weeks, to study creative writing. This will be my second degree (and I assume it will be easier), but it freaks me out! I have no idea if I will be able to handle it or if my body will completely shut down. I’m doing it online so that it is not as much of a physical strain, but the energy still worries me. Even writing this is a huge struggle for me, my eyes aren’t wanting to stay open and my brain is in a complete fog. All I know is that I have to try something before I go even more insane. I’m not sharing this with you for attention or to be an inspiration, but I am sharing for two reasons.

Reason One: As mentioned before, if you guys are taking precious time out of your day to read this, (and other posts from me) you deserve to know me. It is not fair for me to want you to read things of mine if I’m not going, to be honest. I also believe that for me to make an impact, I have to be raw, and real. Nothing good will come of me lying or being fake.

Reason Two: To highlight that my last eighteen months, is many people’s reality. You often don’t see it or have any idea, but it’s there. If you have a friend who is going through something similar, please be patient. They are trying their best and hoping for a miracle. If they decide to do something but they’re not sure if they are capable, encourage them. Remind them that if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. Please, please, please, be supportive even if you don’t understand it. The truth is, that support could transform everything,

I hope you found this interesting and even eye-opening. 

Until next week, be kind to one another and to yourself.

Bethany