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Why a 9 to 5 Job Isn't for Me as a Person With a Disability

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My wheelchair brakes needed to be tightened again after a week. My new wheels may also have a space in them after less than 24 hours. On the bright side though, my abs are becoming steel so I can lift my lower body when my chair tries to go in circles or another way.

All of that aside, I saw a quote on Twitter from Erica Thompson that said: “This whole go to college, get a degree, get a job, pay off your debt while investing in your 401k plan, sit at a desk, work until you’re 65+, then retire and die life ain’t it.” My first response was, “Well, most of it,” as I already have one degree and the courses for another are completed. My second thought was: “Maybe I shouldn’t have shared that.”

As a person with a disability, it is already hard enough to get society to understand that I am capable. If I indicate that a typical life “ain’t it,” most people would probably assume I won’t be doing anything for myself, because again, society has come to think that different means less.

Here is the real meaning behind sharing that quote. I’ve been trying to find a typical 9-5 adult job in the career fitted for my passion and the degree I just finished: communications. I won’t lie, since completing my last college course, there are days where I try, but I just don’t see what “normal” job I fit into, and not because I’m less capable or deserving. At this point in time, I’m just not inspired or don’t have enough experience.

I may not be inspired to get a typical communications job because I’ve experienced so much discrimination. I may have a fear of not being understood or taken seriously. I may be fearful or frustrated about being dependent on someone or something until I can independently drive myself. I may be fearful that I’m not “good enough” at something I’m not used to. Maybe all of the above.

All I know is, I spend my days looking for typical jobs, but I’m the happiest during the moments of each day or night when I create something that makes a difference for people or I think of ways to improve lives, including mine. Like taking my struggles with my new wheelchair and wanting to work with companies as a person with firsthand experience so others in my position don’t feel as if they must just deal with their situation or make jokes about it to feel better.

Many people with disabilities have felt like this or created their own businesses because of the reasons above. I wish society would be more supportive so people with disabilities feel more comfortable taking typical jobs, but I’m also coming to realize that personal creativity is a trait many people with disabilities have based on our experiences, and we can use it to make a difference in this world. As scared as I am of being able to support myself, for now, happiness is what matters most, so here’s to giving freelancing a shot. I’ll check back in a few months or years and hope to be where I desire to be. I know my creativity won’t have a time limit on it.

Please respect that different paths don’t mean people are less worthy. Everyone is capable of fulfilling their own purpose and should be recognized for their gifts.

Getty image by Anna Minkina.

Originally published: November 22, 2019
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