The fact is, as much as I've learnt to cope and thrive with chronic illnesses, sometimes I can't help but feel disadvantaged by them. Especially as I've ventured into my first 9 to 5 job.
The doubts started small at first. Like most celiacs can probably relate to, I worried about the food aspect of working. Since I'm in the office during the time I eat at least two meals, I knew I'd have to rock a cooler full of gluten free goodies instead of a business briefcase.
In the end, my coworkers and boss have been more than accommodating. We have a mini fridge I store my (lunch box enclosed) food in and the freedom to eat whenever we're hungry. No one has commented about my green smoothie bowls I tote for brunch - even though they're not exactly typical office eats.
But I haven't been able to shake the worry: "Am I enough?"
Am I doing enough even though I can only come into the office two times a week? I thought I'd vanquished most of my fibromyalgia symptoms, but the extreme fatigue that comes from waking up two hours earlier than usual and driving 30 minutes to 1 hr in traffic to and from work proved me wrong.
Am I social enough when I can't attend most outside events? I only work in-office Monday and Tuesday, and most activities occur later in the week. Besides the obvious commute challenge and my busy schedule (GRE studying to the death!), the socials often involve food. And, while I'd be fine bringing my own meals, sometimes I wonder if it's worth it.
Am I "easy" enough when a lunch with my boss takes more planning than it would with anyone else? When people you admire offer to take you out to lunch, it feels awkward to not be able to say "yes" to any of their favorite eateries. Even though I know celiac disease is not my fault, I feel bad for being the "complicated" employee.
Will I be enough for future jobs? If I'm struggling, growing and doubting this much in a part time internship, what will happen when I work full time?
Honestly, I don't know all the answers. In my working journey, I've barely left home - and I know I have plenty of experiences, adventures and surprises to come. But what I do know - and what anyone with chronic illnesses should keep telling themselves - is this:
My medical "weaknesses" can also be my strengths.
While I can't give any details away, don't be surprised to see plenty of health related articles on Entity.com when it goes live in July. Perhaps my diseases do keep me from being "normal" - but they also give me a unique perspective to share.
You can build work friendships in the office too.
When I'm working in the office, it's easy to get close to the other girls - mainly because there's lots of workers and limited office space! Sure, I'm bummed and worried sometimes when everyone attends a social event that I - schedule or health wise - can't. But I make sure to hear all about it the next work day. And I try to chat and have fun even as we're typing away in the office.
I can be more than enough in what I can control.
I can't change my gluten free diet or fibro fatigue - but I can make sure I work to be the best employee possible. When I'm in the office, I knock out my assignments. When I'm working from home, I'm equally dedicated. I'm more than my medical diagnosis - and my creativity, determination and work ethic is more than enough.
And when I'm enough in so many different ways, I'm worth a little extra work. Heck, I know I'm probably worrying about my celiac complications more than my boss ever has of is.
And when I start believing I'm enough - no "in spite of" or "even though" qualifiers in sight - I'll find a job that fits all of me.
After all, it's already happened once. I feel so extremely blessed to be part of Entity. Besides the commute, it really is my dream job: using my love of writing to promote and assist female empowerment. Sure, I'll never be a "normal" worker - but you aren't hired to be average.
You're hired to be extraordinary.
*Also found at Wine'd Down Wednesday*
Do you ever have doubts about being "enough" at your job? What medical challenges have you faced while working? Comment below!