When people ask you what you do in life, what do you say? It's normal to reply by telling what you do for a living. Right? I feel like I need to keep explaining that when I became paralyzed my whole world changed, my body changed so therefor I changed, also my options and goals. And all of that takes time. Because of all that had happened I'm still looking for what suits me and my situation now. I don't have a job (yet!). I don't feel useless, because I have enough to do, to think about, to learn, to share with the world.
This process goes slow, first there was this fighters mode, trying to fight to what I always wanted. I wasn't going to let this spinal cord injury hold me back. First it's mostly physical.
After that phase I went through a mild depressed phase, because I reached limits (body wise) I didn't know existed. My mind was ten steps ahead but my body couldn't follow. That was setback. After that, the in a slow mode kicked in, because I need time to discover my new world, I surrender to what I can't change, my body is different so my options are changing. I needed to stop forcing myself to do what I always did. I accept that things are different now. I can't control my body so I need to listen to it.
This is all very personal, it's different for everybody. Some people with disabilities are not able to work at all and some are working like any other abled person. Every disability is different and so are the options, limits, needs and dreams. In society we are told we need a job. We are our job. If you don't have a job, then you failed. I agreed with that for a long time, but it's not completely true. I agree it's good but to a certain extant. We are humans trying to survive. We need money in this modern world to survive, and we need to contribute to the bigger thing to have some fulfillment in life. A job, a task is good for a lot. Most people feel better, and are comfortable with following the system that we are taught in school. And it works. Nothing wrong with that but it's something that works if you are healthy. When it starts to have some negative effect on your health you shouldn't ignore the warning signals.
Now that I have become disabled and no longer can participate like the regular citizen I felt useless for some time. The idea which I lived by I could not apply any longer. The 5 days a week, 9 to 5 job that I studied for doesn't suit me anymore. I need to change my ideas. I need to distance myself from expectations, from what is 'normal'.
Many people in western society have a burn-out or suffer from a depression. The emptyness is haunting us. I know at least 10 people around me who are experiencing forms of these problems. Working too much doing a job that doesn't suit you. Are we afraid of being different? Yes. I know I am. Do we know what we truly want? I don't think so. Or maybe we do know what we want but we can't and that causes frustration.
I wanted to meet expectations of people in my environment, my family, friends, collegues, classmates, neighbours, etc. And It's a battle I was fighting since I was a kid, because I never fitted in, at school or in groups of people. I was always the outcast. So I'm used to that.
Being disabled is being different. And now that I have less control, not only over my body but also what I can do, it's visible that I'm different. I care less and less about what is expected. Because I will never meet expectations, I will just have to transcend all that.
Becoming disabled > fighters mode > depression > slow mode > ............
Fight > Lose > Heal > Learn > Fight > Win