A couple of nights ago, I had a phone consultation with a career specialist and I brought up equal opportunity. She said that equal opportunity doesn’t mean that my disability will help me land a job. It means that potential employers won’t discriminate against me on the basis of my disability. She noted that she’d previously worked with someone who demanded an interview for a job based on the fact that he was of an ethnic minority, and that this rudeness turned people right off (understandably). She said that, depending on how I frame my disability and choose to speak about it, it can work for me or against me.
I recently managed to secure some freelance manuscript development work without making use of equal opportunity. I sold myself on my skills, abilities, and desire to work in manuscript development rather than on the basis of being impaired. I was given work because of my experience and intelligence rather than my impairment; I didn’t even mention my disability to my employer because it never factored into my work or ability to work. The specialist with whom I spoke a few days ago said that disabilities and illnesses only really matter to employers – or are worth mentioning – if the person will need time off or extra sick days to receive therapy or medical treatment. This made perfect sense to me, particularly since a previous employer asked me about pain management and ‘off days’, to which I responded that I manage my pain and my disability with exercise and massage therapy.
If mentioning my disability cannot help me secure a job, I do not want to mention it at all and I do not want to ‘use’ it to get work. I will no longer mention it in work applications or interviews (unless it comes up in conversation). I have a job interview a couple of weeks from now (which I secured without mentioning my impairment). I will walk in there wearing my new boots, a pretty skirt, a gorgeous top, and my new ‘look at me’ statement bag. I’ll present better than I have in the past, and that will help me get the job. When I get a job I really want, I will feel like I really deserve it and have earned it rather than feeling that I just got in because the company felt as though they had to hire a disabled person.
My family came to visit me this week. Just before he left, my father said to me, ‘You set this town on fire.’ I certainly will.