Sunday, February 11, 2018

Big Changes Are a Coming: Christy's Edition (Part 2)

Friday 12 PM - Walking out of my therapist's office, I felt good. Great even. It had been a positive session. All the time, energy, and effort I had been putting forth was finally paying off. There was a measurable difference in how I felt now compared to how I felt just 4 months ago when I began this endeavor. It was kind of astounding.

Dr. Q. and I talked in depth about this shift that was taking place. That I was starting to view the future as positive opportunities rather than full of fear and uncertainty. That I was feeling confident in my abilities to handle change and open to possibility. That I am stronger than I ever give myself credit for and have a lot to offer (hypothetical) potential employers. That while I always intellectually knew these things to be true, I actually believed them to be.

I climbed in the car and began chatting with Josh. I wanted to share my revelations and was trying to articulate how it feels to return to yourself after a long, arduous journey with two unwelcome companions, (Depression and Anxiety), when my phone rang.

It was Huron High School looking to schedule an interview the following Tuesday morning for the position of Class Secretary/ Office Professional. Excited and surprised by the suddenness of it all, I'm not entirely sure that my agreement on the date and time were coherent, but arrangements were made for a two-part interview Tuesday, a mere 4 days away.

Friday 2 PM - Full of butterflies and nervous energy, I was happy to find Emy's school secretary alone in the main office when I went to volunteer later. Blurting out the news of the upcoming interview and questions about what the second part - the skills test might entail. I was quickly reassured by Mrs. B that I'd be fine and in her opinion if I wanted it, the job was probably mine to be had.

Tuesday 8:50 AM - The morning of the interview arrived and unsurprisingly I was my nervous self. But unlike the other interview I'd gone on last fall, I was a reasonable amount of nervous. I felt confident and ready, for once taking solace in the fact that the only thing I had to do was be my friendly self and see where this goes.

And it went.
Or so I thought.

Tuesday 10:15 AM - Walking to the bus stop, I texted my best friend about how the interview went alright, commenting on how out of practice I felt during the skills test and asked if there would come a time when I'd feel less nervous and not stumble over my answers as much. Knowingly she replied that I'd always feel nervous and asked me how it felt being there.

And that's the thing; having spent so much time in so many different schools, I've developed an ability to quickly asses a school environment and gauge how welcoming it may or may not be. It's not an exact science, more of a gut reaction, but I've personally found it to be pretty sport on.

Huron felt special. Everyone I interacted with was friendly and polite. The vibe was welcoming and kind and I could tell that I was amongst professionals who care deeply about students and education. My kind of people. Conveying this to her via text, I was struck by the notion that I was disappointed the interview hadn't gone better, because I was fairly certain I'd enjoy working there.

Tuesday 11:30 AM - Josh came home from lunch and found me consoling myself over a rather large bowl of popcorn. I'm not sure he believed me when I told him I'd already eaten my salad and this was dessert, but what can you do? At least it wasn't alcohol.  We sat at the table and I rattled off all my perceived errors and all the reasons why I wouldn't be getting this job. He listed patiently and then calmly asked for me to tell him the things that had gone well. Flustered, I forced myself to focus on the positive and was  reluctant to admit, but pleasantly surprised by the number of examples I was able to give. During our lunch, we were interrupted by Amanda, saying she'd just gotten a message from the Assistant Principal at Huron who was calling to check my references. That's the beauty of having a best friend listed as one of your references, they'll be sure to give you a heads up when things are about to go down.

Tuesday 4:00 PM - Walking towards Emy's classroom to pick her up from school, I was stopped by her principal, who happens to be another one of the references I'd been listing on applications. With a smile, he said he'd gotten a call about me from the same Assistant Principal at Huron and he sang my praises. When I revealed he was the second reference I'd heard from that afternoon, and that I'd only interviewed this morning, he cautioned that the process may take longer that it appeared at the moment and not to get discouraged if I didn't hear anything for a day or two.

Tuesday 4:50 PM - I got a call from Ann Arbor Public Schools Human Resources offering me the job.

Sometimes, when you finally admit that you're ready, the Universe says, "It's about damn time." and things start falling into place.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Big Changes Are a Coming: Christy's Edition

I got a job last week.
I start on Monday.

A little back story.......

I've been applying for jobs for about 6 months now. Encouragement (ie: Pressure) from my LTD company, along with a growing desire to figure out what I want to be doing with my life set these wheels in motion and for well over a year I've been obsessively thinking about returning to work.
I subscribed to all the major job finder websites, and my inbox was flooded daily with job postings that ranged from feasible to down-right ridiculous. (It's amazing how many jobs were recommended to me that required driving skills.) Several times a week I'd spend hours reading through them, analyzing the requirements and duties listed, trying to discern from a few paragraphs what this job actually was. Was I qualified? What would the work environment be like? Would it be too stressful? Would I be challenged, yet not overwhelmed? What sort of visual skills were required? Would the company be willing to make reasonable accommodations for my vision impairments? Could I get to and from the place of business by bus? Was the commute time & distance reasonable? Would I need childcare? Was it enough (money/interest/opportunity) to risk losing my LTD insurance?

I'm sure you're surprised to find out that my anxiety has been off the charts for the last year.

The idea of going back to work is both exhilarating and terrifying.  It's been 5 years since I've left teaching. FIVE. And while leaving the classroom was certainly the best decision for my physical and mental health, thereby making it the best choice for my family; surrendering to my disability felt like failure to me in so many ways. Just the idea of putting myself out there again, reentering the work force, only to (possibly) have to admit once again that my low-vision prevents me from successfully holding down a job, was (is) paralyzing.  But with A LOT of support from career counselors, therapists, my husband and daughter, family, and friends - I began putting myself out there.

I hadn't interviewed for a job since 2004. Aside from the one summer I worked at Busch's grocery store to help pay for my Masters, it's been 14 years since I've done any of this - created resumes, applied for jobs, waited anxiously for interviews to be set up, and then the impossibly long wait to hear any news regarding the position. Let me tell you, I didn't miss it for one second. But I did it and applied for jobs that I thought might be a good fit. I even began to get a little excited about all the possibilities.

In October, I went on my first interview and didn't completely bomb it. The position was not the right fit for me so I was only mildly surprised and disappointed that I wasn't offered a second interview.

Once November hit, I decided to take a hiatus from applying, figuring I'd start back up again in January. Or maybe I'd wait until April. Or May and look for something that would start in September, when Emy goes back to school. Slowly losing steam, not really sure what I wanted, afraid of the unknown, I was pretty willing to make a decision by not doing anything at all.

But January came. And with it came the feeling of hope, fresh starts, and resolutions to change old habits. As he had been doing for months, Josh, (my relentless cheerleader and Chief Encourager) sent me some job postings. The role of Class Secretary/Office Professional at middle and high schools around the Ann Arbor school district piqued my interest. There were several positions available, two of which were at Huron High School, Josh's alma mater and a mere 2.4 miles from my house. Reasonably confident in my qualifications and ability to perform the duties, I was also excited about the job itself.
So I applied.

Then theoretical became reality, awfully fast.