Not too long ago I wrote how good it feels to be open and honest about my brain injury while travelling.
As I’m still travelling, my appreciation of openness is still increasing. Not only because it’s so much easier to truly be yourself, but also as it often results in really good conversations.
As I’ve mentioned before, at home I’m not this open. And shouldn’t I try to change this?
This question kept circling through my mind, which is why I decided to try and make some sense of it by writing it all down.
Do I tell or not?
Whenever I meet new people, there is always that moment in which I have to choose. Do I answer honesty and tell about my brain injury or not? While travelling, I choose to be honest fairly easily.
And so far, that turned out to be a good decision. It often leads to really good conversations. The conversations that stay with me, are those in which I learn that the other also lives with a disability or illness. This somehow creates a feeling of connectedness. We both have faced some hard times, still struggle, but are incredible grateful that we can travel.
Obviously this mindset doesn’t require you to have an illness or disability. But I do find that having a similar experience creates some kind of bond. Wether they have a brain injury or something else.
It also reminds me that we can’t tell from the outside what people are going through. (It’s still a welcome reminder that I’m not alone too.)
Afterwards I always feel elated, but it doesn’t take too long befor the doubts set in. If being open is such a positive experience, why don’t I do that at home?
At home I’m very aware about how I present myself online and offline. Which is why I use my nickname for this blog.
Finding a job with a disability
During reintegration I heard too many stories of the difficulties others faced when looking for a job. Unfortunately, this seems to be supported by the numbers as over half of those with a disability that want to work can’t find a job (in the Netherlands that is).
Of course not all disabilities and not all jobs are the same, but still. I do need a job to pay my bills.
One of my major fears of this new normal is that I don’t get invited for a job interview, because the employer discovered about my brain injury. Is this fear well-founded? I don’t know, but I don’t like the odds (yet).
(During the second round of interviews I’ll tell about my brain injury. By then I hope that their first impression is already a positive one.)
I try to keep my work persona separate, in the hopes of being treated just like everybody else.
But with all the positive experiences on the road, I keep wondering if this is the right decision.
- Didn’t I say that I don’t want fear to control my life?
- Can’t I just be open en honest about myself?
- Doesn’t my work speaks for itself? Aren’t we one step further as a society?
I want to be myself, but also really need a job. That’s why I’m still in the figurative closet. Because I’m scared of getting less job opportunities, as soon as people know I have a brain injury.
And I don’t know if this is a rational fear.
Influence of news
The last couple of weeks, I came across a range of news articles which showed that we (with a disability) still have a long road ahead of us. In the Netherlands a state secretary proposed a bill (in Dutch) to pay less then the minimum wage for certain groups. In England it was discovered that people with disabilities lose their legal aid in 99% of benefit disputes and in the United States there are Congressional proposals to cut healthcare and nutritional assistance.
These kind of articles don’t make my fear any less. So I do still think that I’m making the right choice. But nevertheless I still find it difficult.
What are your experiences? Are you still able to work? How open and honest can, or dare, you to be?