31 Jan 2012

Introduction: Life is not meant to be traveled backwards

The other day I came across the following quote “Don’t waste your time looking back on what you’ve lost. Move on, for life is not meant to be traveled backwards” on the social network site Facebook. It struck a cord with me, as the last few months I've been doubting myself, and second guessing everything; from my attempt in writing fiction, to where I’m going with my life. For the briefest of moments I was tempted to throw in the towel, pack my toys and become that “poor little cripple” that society expected of someone like me.

After all, I have felt like I’ve hit a brick wall after a decade of tertiary study, where the next step of being gainfully employed seemed to have eluded me since even before graduating with a Masters in Social and Community Work. It just stalled. Regardless how many job applications I sent out locally, nationally and even far afield as Australia and the United Kingdom, and how many avenues# I approached to gain employment, it just never eventuated.

For a while I started wondering if it was me that’s unemployable. Maybe I had a sucky personality?

Or maybe, just maybe, I looked funny or had bad body odour?

Okay, I understand that we’re experiencing a bit of a economic topsy-tervy, and that jobs are scarce. But I had a social work degree, and a Masters to boot, for crying out loud. Not only that, people were telling me that I’ll be snatched up like nobody’s business by every social service provider. Figuring that this would be the case, I endeavoured to network with fellow graduates and veteran practitioners alike. Then I graduated in May of 2010 and things just -- well -- they just came to a grinding halt.

The truth is, it wasn’t just me in this situation. I knew of another disabled person who had graduated with a teaching degree, and she too found things come to a grinding halt.

Oddly enough, she went through the same questioning cycle of self doubt. The truth however is different. It wasn’t because of me that I couldn’t find a job, and still can’t by yesterday’s letter all the way from Auckland telling me that despite being thoroughly impressed with my resume they’ll be hiring someone else. It is just the luck of the draw. Some of us get the job, and others don’t. Add to it all that other stuff, like the Recession and peoples kneejerk reactions to seeing a person with a disability, and you’ve got yourself a nice recipe for remaining unemployed.

Admittedly, that can suck big time, as being gainfully employed meant being a contributing member of society and the like. In turn, being the opposite meant you were a useless twat with a lazy bone the length of the Mississippi River. That is how I felt society view the two. Besides, it’s not as if  I was unwilling to work. I was. Am still, honest. Really I am. Okay, it may require a little bit of creative thinking on how to have me answer the phone, but technology has advanced so much that a solution to the “how” would be easily found.

Then I started thinking that I ought to retrain, as I wasn’t obviously cut out for social work, regardless to what I have been told. Maybe I should’ve been an electrical engineer like my parents, or an accountant turned business mogul like my brother. Clown college unfortunately has no campus in Dunedin, but I did see several in America after googling it one day. For a while, I even contemplated becoming a counselor. Still might down the line, but it won’t be via a university qualification. Then again, one shouldn’t really say they won’t do something, as it tends to be a self fulfilling prophesy. So let me amend: becoming a counselor via means of a university qualification is one possible path to take.

For a while I wanted to go elsewhere. Anywhere was good, as long as there will be an opportunity of employment and the hurdles present would be not so much. Australia seemed like a good place to go to, and I had friends there too to boot who would help me out. Family too. Then there was the idea of going to England, as have friends and family there. Ditto for South Africa.

But then I came to accept that running off to all those places wouldn’t solve anything. Oh, for sure there would be the whole novelty of moving to another place going on, and there’ll be the welcome distraction of getting to know my new surroundings, get to know people and all that jazz. Thing is, the idea of moving would be akin to applying a band aide of sorts to my problem, a temporary fix at best. Who is to say I would have ended up in a worse off situation. No, there was no point in running away. It was time to face things.

Correction, it is time to face it.

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