Esme Mazzeo lives in the United States. Mazio writes for television shows and magazines. His articles are more about disability and for readers who have disabilities like himself. What you read below is an essay on the points that people with disabilities need to consider in order to find a job.
There was a time when I would get out of bed in the middle of the day, comb my hair, eat something, waste my time on social media, watch TV, eat dinner, sleep, and so on. Except for one day a month when I was writing an article about a TV show for a news website.
I have cerebral palsy (CP), which means I had a stroke at birth. I use a walker and a wheelchair to move. Of course, I am not saying this as an excuse for my current lifestyle; This is why I say that you should know that my disability was a reason for living for a long time and identifying with female TV characters. Following series with female protagonists made me not think about the reasons why I did not work. Of course, all this only lasted until I found the strength to write my own story.
To be honest, in order to receive benefits from the government, I had to keep my income below a certain level for three years. I really love watching TV and sleeping. So I sat in front of the TV all day and slept, and I had no problem with that. It all went on until one night in 2016, the night I cried until morning, because I was afraid of the future and loneliness and loneliness; Fear that had taken over my whole being. That night was one of those nights that changed a person’s whole life. I had treated my disability in a way that imposed living conditions on me; I was busy with programs that distracted me from my problems, but the reality was that I was getting nowhere by watching the series and its fake characters achieving their false dreams.
My dream has always been to write, to write for magazines and TV shows, and I find myself very happy that this has always been my dream. But I had to push myself to find it again, because I was buried under anxiety and anxiety, and I had to try to regain the confidence to pursue my dreams. What you are reading in this article are some of the tips I found on my way to being able to start my career again. Perhaps by reading these tips, you will be inspired by the path I have taken and you will design your own path.
1. Admit that you can not create a perfect career path for yourself
You should know that disability has made me a top-notch programmer. Let me give you an example; Buying a simple movie or concert ticket, which can be bought online with just a few clicks for ordinary people, can take days for people with disabilities, depending on the disability and how many steps it takes to buy a ticket online. For myself, it recently took 48 hours to buy a concert ticket! During this time I had to talk to a few people on the phone and I was under a lot of stress so that I could finally get a chair that would fit in my wheelchair.
Career planning is the same for people like me. Well, in terms of training, if you are lucky, you will not have much trouble. Elementary school to high school, first and second year, and then university; The route looks good and comfortable. According to the rules of education, the necessary equipment and facilities must be provided for you. But the real world is different! I soon realized that this real world, for everyone, especially someone with my circumstances, is full of bumps and missteps. Many may be well aware of this and, as a theorist, talk a lot about it, but the fact is that when you sit motionless and watch the others move and progress at the same time, no one tells you these things; It is as if everyone has left you alone.
Let’s go back to my own life story; After college, I qualified for a program that I thought would help people with disabilities get started. But instead, they sent me to a library. There I had to work with a manager who had no desire to help me succeed, and I had to do something that had nothing to do with the world of writing. Like I said, I always liked to write. But I was scared of it, because I was convinced that this was a very competitive field and I could not keep up with others.
I had a bachelor’s degree in publishing, but it seemed like I needed to study more to get started. It was that I made up my mind and got a master’s degree. At the same time, I was waiting for a good job opportunity and I was dreaming at the same time. Honestly, I wanted to be the editor of my own magazine, write a play, have my own TV show, and oversee the work of other writers. But all these goals seemed too big for me!
Despite all the planning I was doing, looking in all directions, all I could see and focus on were obstacles; Obstacles such as not having a driver’s license, going back and forth in a wheelchair, others think I can not be compared to my peers and other things like that. These thoughts kept running through my head. Eventually this thought, worry, and anxiety weakened me so much that I decided to leave myself to the therapist.
Working with a therapist was a good experience. Of course, the change did not happen overnight, but my anxiety gradually disappeared and I began to feel hopeful for the future. I was finally able to break down my big goals into small, actionable steps.
2. Take a step that is right for you
Amidst all the anxiety and worries, the idea was always on my mind: to take a studio photo as part of a project and write about it to boost my self-confidence. It was a big deal for me, but this new self could start small, ask for guidance, and get things done step by step. That’s when I got to work.
This experience opened doors for me that I did not even know existed. The story was that I asked someone for guidance, and he directed me to a Facebook group; There I met another person who had the answer to my next question, and so on. I finally published an article that I was proud of, and a whole other idea came to my mind about what to do next. Little by little, I came to my senses and saw that I was a freelancer.
Of course, I still had a lot to learn about freelancing, but I had other resources that I could use. On the other hand, the treatment steps I followed helped me to manage my ideas. In short, if I had not forced myself to take that first step, none of these subsequent events would have happened.
So stop planning and daydreaming and spiraling. Sometimes dreaming and planning for the future are not as important as knowing yourself and where you are now. That’s when you can see the opportunities or obstacles in front of you. When you overcome one of them, you reach the next stage and this process continues until you gradually achieve a tangible achievement. It feels great, believe me!
3. Know when to ask for help
The truth is that even after starting freelancing, I still, from the bottom of my heart, wanted to find a normal job in a company. As my financial situation became more difficult, I felt anxious again. When it came to finding a long-term stable job, my whole mind was broken again. That’s when I realized I still needed help.
Here, too, I had the chance and was able to find a career path for myself through the resources I had; Someone to help me plan a job that has small, workable steps that fit my needs. He helped me to clarify in my mind the kind of work I wanted to do and the value I could bring to that company. With his help, I was able to set goals for myself; He held me responsible for my actions and motivated me in this direction.
For example, before I worked with him, I was afraid of networking with others, because networking in my mind meant noisy periods with a whole lot of people looking down on me, and I had to go from bottom to top because of my circumstances. I was staring at them and my neck was stretched!
My advisor told me that most people do not feel good about this concept of networking, although everyone’s reasons are different. It was a program that helped me find and reach the right people through social media. Networking online, using social networking tools, is easier for everyone. This experience of connecting with others and networking made me feel human, not just a name on someone else’s to-do list.
4. Find your values
Before the career guidance I told you about, I always avoided any mention of my disability on the application forms. I did not want this situation to be a reason to get or even not get a job. Then I made a plan when and how to state my situation to the other party; These thoughts and fantasies made me more anxious. But the job coach helped me to look at my disability positively instead of hiding it; And that’s how I gained the confidence I needed to compete in the job market.
I came to realize that as a writer, having a unique pen and not being afraid to use it is the most important advantage I have. I now know that publications need new voices, and I am fortunate to be able to join them. Of course, this does not always work for everyone, but I decided to take that part of my identity for myself and share my disability with the other party from the beginning.
I realized in that period that experience does not always have to be achieved in the traditional way. You just have to take the time to present your experience in a way that proves you are valuable to the company. When I learned how to say “I am a valuable person” out loud, I was ready to find the job I was looking for.
In the end, the actual process of applying for and finding a job for me was faster than I thought. Of course, provided that we put aside the three years of struggle before that. Of course, I have no complaints. This struggle helped me gain more self-confidence, and I do not think anyone can achieve it in the short term.
5. Keep going
I’m proud of all the way I went, including the two years I struggled with anxiety. I am also proud of my disability. Both of these bothered me at times, but they also proved my ability to persevere until I reached my goals, even if it took me longer to reach them. I do not want to chant; I certainly do not like that much trouble. I do not think such situations are fair or funny. I do not consider myself an inspiration to others because of achieving them. As far as I know, no other disabled person is like that. Honestly, we are just trying to make our lives as good as possible. And I am thankful that when I reach a goal, the length of the path I take makes me value my success more than anyone else.
These days, most mornings I wake up early, get ready, eat breakfast, turn on the TV, and go to my computer to check in with the editor and ask him what I need to do that day. If I am not watching TV to do my job, I will do the other orders I received through freelancing.
This is a big step in my career, but it is only a step. I still have a long way to go, and sometimes it is difficult to accept this in the culture of competition and the social networks in which I live. But this experience taught me that I have the ability and talent to rediscover my goals and pursue them. I have always loved television, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to find work in this field. But now my goals, for myself, are much more interesting than the goals of the characters I watched and do on TV.