CONTRIBUTOR: Maddeline “Maddy” Thomas ’18 is a disability activist and will be contributing articles on disability awareness in the workplace and beyond. This is her fourth article for the blog.
“In Her Shoes”
This year, I had to adapt to many new changes, take risks, and let people accept me. I found a group of impressive women who welcomed me with open arms and adjusted to the way I communicate naturally. In September, I became a member of an organization that empowers women called “In Her Shoes.” I finally found a sisterhood that shares similar values and aspirations as I do. I was able to open up and share my input right away because they are eager to hear my opinions. I hope my readers will attend In Her Shoes upcoming virtual events because I want you to experience an incredible organization.
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Before the Pandemic
My life was hectic, and I was only going through the motions without reflecting and taking the proper actions. I was busy at work, always out after work, and I did not want to go home. Every day, I was either with co-workers, personal aides, coaches, personal trainers, and friends. The social life helped me cope with daily stresses and made me avoid facing conflict. I would have constant distractions, so I did not want to worry about not being in the place I expected to be.
I was going through job interviews, waiting to get a promotion for one of my jobs in July, was planning a big 21st birthday for my best friend, upcoming college alumni events, and traveling. These plans disappeared, and I struggled for the first few months of the pandemic.
During the Pandemic
Being alone in my room all day was my biggest nightmare because I like being around people. My nightmare came through. I could not go to work, gym, or socialize with people. Some days, I did not have much work, and it made me restless. However, the best part of working remotely is the SJSU staff zoom parties. I am starting to form connections with the other departments that we did not get to in person because we miss each other since we are not on campus anymore.
Finally, I spent good quality time with my best friends. Since I do not have social interactions, I schedule weekly FaceTimes with my friends. It made me open up so much to them, and they helped coach me to express my feelings to my family and friends. I did not know how to approach people to let them get to know me. I was distant from my sister for fifteen years, I finally told her my feelings this year, and we have gotten closer. It will take constant work, but I should not be afraid to talk it out with her. My birthday recently passed, many people reconnected with me. Even though they are not consistent, I have to make an effort to keep the relationships. People go through changes in their lives; they can not always be there for you, but give them a chance when they come back to you.
I reached a turning point with my best friends. Recently, I got to open up about all my feelings and what I’ve experienced all my life. People with disabilities are conditioned to don’t share their feelings with others because people usually ignore or interrupt us. Society taught us to be intolerable with one another and not able to express ourselves. We need to make time for others. My best friends love me for who I am, and they helped to tear my walls so I can express everything to them. They only want the best for me and let me love and care about them so much.
For the New Year
As we enter 2021, I learned that I have to upfront with my feelings and open up to others. I should not be afraid to talk about my disability to avoid judgments from others. My disability is the best part of me, and people should not discredit it. It makes me unique and impactful, so I have to provide awareness as much as I can.
Categories: Disability Awareness in the Workplace