Category: Life lessons

Finding My Way…

I am unsure about any of you but I remember a time when I could tell you exactly what I wanted to do with my life as far as an occupation is concerned. I enjoyed career days in elementary school; at my small, Midwest, rural United States school from the time we were in preschool until we were in 6th grade we would dress up in costumes representing the careers we aspired to. So from the time I was at least 4 years old until I was approximately 12 years, I participated in career days!

I was always ready for those days, during some of the earlier career days, I, like many other youngsters simply wanted to be whatever the latest craze was on the biggest cartoons….but I often ended up being whatever costume my parents found at the local department store! I did not care because we were having a party for career day for most of those earlier days. It also never occurred to me that career day in preschool through third grade often occurred during Halloween!

I was a child and I did not realize my first few “career days” were simply excuses for Halloween parties! Plus I did not know that my small, lovable town had a few religious groups who were absolutely opposed to the celebration of Halloween, but not career day!

But once we made it to 4th grade, career days became real! I recall distinctly that this was a time when those of us who were labeled high achieving were separated from our peers and told about the importance of careers.

For all three years I wanted to be an Attorney.

Not just any attorney, I wanted to specialize in child advocacy and juvenile rights. I did not know if such a thing existed but I knew that this was my career choice!

To convey the message to everyone that I wanted to be an attorney, I would wear a suit! Without fail, every year during those three years, I wore a “power suit” that was usually some shade of gray.

I felt that gray was the color that any good attorney would wear! I am certain that I got that idea from Andy Griffith’s Matlock! My young mind felt that Matlock always wore a gray suit, and he was the closest I’d ever been to an attorney.

My desire to be an attorney felt like a dream conceived in my wild imagination that was impossible because of my humble beginnings!

Let me explain, I am Black from a small town in the United States of America and at that time, the majority of my extended family thought of college as something that wealthy people did. This is not a bad thing, it simply highlights the issues with access to higher education…so when I suggest that become an attorney felt like a wild dream, I am serious.

Well once I finished high school, I no longer wanted to be an attorney; however, I continued to tell people who I was interested in attending law school. I did not know how to tell individuals that I was not interested in a legal career anymore (side-note: my perception of what was meant by a legal career was drastically limited at the time so it probably would have worked if I knew more) so even once I graduated from my undergraduate institution – I continued to tell people that I wanted to become a child advocate attorney.

It sounded much better than – I want to help underrepresented groups attend and graduate from post-secondary institutions! Yes, telling someone who I wanted to be a child advocate attorney sounded much better….because I had an actual name for that position and it was readily familiar to most people.

I am still actively looking for a job in the real world, but when I think back to the young me who was always ready for career day – I am thankful for the opportunity to even begin thinking about a career. I may no longer want to be an attorney, but I am still in the market to becoming an advocate – young me would be proud!

I am presently finding my way to my future through an exploration of my past. Keep watching!

Single-sided Deafness and Me

First, I live with single-sided deafness which is known by other names; however, I use the term single-sided deafness to convey the significance.

When I’ve told people that I have unilateral hearing loss, they believe that my non-functioning ear works with amplification

This usually results in people yelling at me or purposely making what I assume to be loud noises in my affected ear.

I rarely even say that I live with single-sided deafness, most often I choose to say that I am deaf on my right side. This often confuses people but I don’t have to endure their “battery of tests” – having my ear yelled into and people clapping their hands near my affected ear.

I was not born with single-sided deafness, but for most of my life I’ve had ear related issues. From early life until now, I have many ear infections. I had a speech impediment as a child and my hearing was a part of the issue. I had balance issues and my ears were the suspected culprit.

No one really knew what was going on at that time and I didn’t have a preferred health insurance plan —- here in the USA, your health insurance plays a significant role in the type of care you have access to.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease and placed on a salt free diet for over a year. This was right before I graduated high school so the specialist I saw was located in the town that became my home during undergraduate.

I had a few specialized procedures and follow up appointments with the specialist.

Oh it’s important to note that my hearing was still in normal ranges at this time – in both ears. I had followed the salt free diet so well that when my time was up to eat this way – I basically stuck with it.

The main difference is that my parents didn’t have to trouble with preparing me a separate salt free meal.

During undergrad my sodium levels dropped too low and the specialist suggested I go to a popular restaurant, order their famous fries and ask for extra salt! Yeah, I never did that but I did eat more pickles and a few other salty foods. It took awhile but my sodium levels returned to normal ranges.

Two specialists warned me that I’ll likely lose my hearing – based on the available clinical information – as a result of many factors including Meniere’s Disease. I didn’t think much of this prognosis since no one could tell me when or if it would certainly happen.

Years passed and I started having issues with balance and it felt like my right ear was filled with water. I went to a primary care physician who treated the ear infection that I seemed to always have!

My ears felt better and I ignored the fact that I would put the television on mute because it sounded distorted; or how I would look in the wrong direction when someone called my name; or how when I wore headphones it felt as if my right ear was stopped up.

The balance issues worsened. I was seeing a neurologist already so tests were run to determine if the problem was neurological. I could not afford to see another specialist at the time.

I waited until my migraines (the reason I was seeing neurologist) were under control and more of my deductible was paid before I made my way to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor.

By this time I was in my late 20s. My insurance was slightly better than it was when I was a child – but I had the income of a full time graduate student…it was low!

My income and insurance were significant players in my decision to seek care for my ailing ear.

My first appointment with the ENT was devastating. I recall the audiologist asking me how was I making it in my classes? I looked at this individual like huh? I didn’t do that bad on your little annoying tests!

I even asked this person why they didn’t play the noises so I could beep in. Still, in denial! I honestly thought that there was a long stretch of silence during the tests.

Even after a sound processor band was placed on my head and suddenly the stretch of silence ended – I preferred to believe that there was a purposeful long stretch of silence in the hearing test.

This belief was much better than the fact that I really couldn’t hear well.

The ENT discussed the audiologist’s findings with me and ordered more tests.

I was on auto pilot because I refused to believe that anything was truly wrong with my ears – other than the all too frequent ear infections!

That was in 2015. Once I left the doctor’s office and called/text my friends and family to inform them that “my right ear was simply decorative” – this was my description!

I cried and wondered if things would’ve been different if I had better insurance as a child or even if I went to doctor at the first sign of a problem. Then I questioned whether the ear problem was overlooked by the physicians I did see because of the much larger issues at the forefront.

Eventually I went back to the audiologist and chose the specialty hearing aid system to improve my quality of life. The hearing aid system was the least affordable option; however, it was the most convenient at that time in my life.

I’ve had the tubing changed several times since my introduction to the world of hearing aids. I’m long overdue for new tubes now.

But once again my income and insurance influences the medical care I even attempt to obtain. As I’ve shared I recently graduated and I’m on the job market with no income…this means no health insurance either.

I’m no longer in denial about my single-sided deafness; but even after all of these years the hearing aid system that was once convenient doesn’t work well for my changing lifestyle.

But most importantly the hearing aid system’s tubes are long overdue for replacement…which means I’m not using them!

Single-sided deafness has been interesting for me. It’s one of the most difficult diagnoses I’ve ever received and I’ve received many.

Plus I’m tired of individuals checking to see if I can hear anything in my right ear. Those tests are just horrible.

Romantic relationships

Before I start, I’ll say that I haven’t had many romantic relationships as far as quantity goes; but, I’ve had a few quality romantic relationships in my adult life.

It’s also important to point out that I was focused on my educational aspirations and therefore I made little time for romantic relationships.

Somehow I managed to have a few quality relationships

Now that school is over and I can think about romance in a different light, I can say that I’m happy that I did not focus heavily on this aspect of life much.

I’ve read a few articles and books in the popular and indie presses about relationships and those are very confusing.

I personally feel that many of those sources are out of touch with the reality of romantic relationships.

I know you’re likely wondering what does she know if she was so caught up in school? I have had romantic relationships, been in love, and endured relationship loss.

My current relationship status is unimportant.

Romantic relationships are not easily explained so be careful when reading the massive love advice in books, blogs, and from “gurus”.

We all enter our relationships with baggage – I’m including our personal beliefs, world views as baggage – therefore our situations may not fit the advice in the love columns.

This job thing

Sigh, I don’t understand how anyone enjoys job searching but I imagine that someone does…I’m not that person.

It doesn’t help that I have training as a researcher – trust me that training helps and hurts my job searching!

For instance, I find a wonderful job, according to the ad it’s my dream job. So I do what any wise job hunter would do…I look up the company and read more about the position.

This is good, however…instead of the quick skimming search that most people would do; I end up looking at things that are slightly connected to the actual job and/or the organization until eventually I fail to remember the job

Remember at one point this job was my dream job??? Next thing I know the application deadline has passed and my dream job is no longer available.

Then I would become distraught because once again my dream job is gone because I got caught up in the details and missed the big picture.

Remember, I’m still supposed to be applying for jobs but I’m losing Energy on the job that never was!

Then I laugh…I realize the dream job wasn’t really a dream job but I was unable to divorce myself from my idea so I found unnecessary information to miss the deadline.

This job search has been enlightening; yet, draining and I need to write more to release the stress and anxiety when I become overwhelmed.

Job searching is far from fun but I’m learning more about myself everyday and I believe I’ll find a position that works for me.

Life’s Journey

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by your personal struggles, whatever they may be. Well, I’ll say that it’s easy for me to become overwhelmed by whatever is or is not happening in my life at any particular moment.

I’m one of those people who actively evaluates their life and their worldview. I do this all the time, sometimes to a point of annoyance. I’ve accepted that it’s a part of my quirky personality, but still I strive for balance.

I don’t just evaluate my life and my worldview; I address my issues and my concerns openly and honestly.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that every issue I have I broadcast it for an audience in order to address it; however, I’m saying that I’m open with myself about my issues and sometimes this means admitting that I’m not ready to address it, yet.

I don’t pretend that the issue is fails to exist; however, I acknowledge that I lack the necessary tools and resources I need to properly address the issue at that time.

Some of my friends prescribe to the notion that someone is worst off than they are, therefore they should refuse to complain another their predicament. Umm…that doesn’t work well for me!

I’m cognizant of the fact that many of my “issues” are rudimentary compared to someone else’s, but what gives?

Seriously, who is the last person who has the absolute worst lot in life and can not find anyone in worst shape?

Plus, what’s wrong with admitting that my problems/issues are a big deal to me? Regardless of how petty they may appear on the grand scale of problems faced by people!

I work hard not to allow my problems to encapsulate me and deplete me of the very resources I need to address them properly. Yet, I refuse to deny the impact that my problems/issues have on my life simply because they are not what books are made of!

My parents made me attend a Protestant Christian church while rearing me in their home. This was one of the value system that my parents felt was important to instill into me so myself and my siblings had to attend church until we finished high school. Once we finished high school we could move out of my parent’s home and decide whether we wanted to continue attending church.

I bring this up, not just to paint a picture about who I am but also to explain another point…

as mentioned I think the belief that one should not complain about their lot in life because someone else’s is worst, is flawed.

I recall as a child, using this same type of logic I thought I needed to have some “major life crises” in order to truly be “redeemed”…the argument never quite made sense but my young mind assumed that in order to truly shine I had to “go through” some heavy stuff!

It was obvious to me that a testimony about making good grades on my report card paled in comparison to a testimony about overcoming drug addiction! You see this is why it’s flawed logic to compare your plight to anyone else’s

We all have our personal crises that impact our very being. Sometimes these crises overwhelm us and yes sometimes I know that I personally can be very dramatic when dealing with a crises…however, even with that it’s important that we don’t undermine the impact of our personal crises. It’s also important that we don’t depreciate our crises by comparing them to other’s crises.

Everyone’s journey is unique.

Balance and Job Searching

In many (if not all) research doctorate programs, we are indirectly taught that we must not pause or stop unless we plan to lose.

Specifically, there’s always something that you could do better. Another paper that you can write. Another research paper and another conference to attend. Occasionally, you’re reminded to have a balance – to not let the process consume you

I completed my research doctorate in December 2018 and I started actively searching for opportunities once I’d defended my dissertation. The first thing I had to decide is what I wanted to do and how did the PhD prepare me for this career path?

It’s January 2019 and I have a much clearer picture on how my educational background has prepared me for the career paths I’m interested.

Now I have to remember the occasional lesson that my mentors and professors taught, which is to make sure I don’t let the process consume me.

It is difficult but I believe it’s important to set an expectation early before the actual career starts – work is important but it should not consume all aspects of your life.

My natural tendency is to do much more than necessary – I do this in all areas of life – so in order to make sure I’m seeking balance I have to remind myself to be balanced in the job search.

I’m excited about the opportunities that I have and I know that I’ll do great wherever I land.

Whenever I apply to a position, I make sure my application materials present the best version of me and I don’t think about who else may apply and their qualifications.

In all I do, I attempt to learn and become a better version of me…the job search is no different.

Remembering Me

While refining my job search I’ve thought a lot about myself as a child. Particularly, I’ve thought about the things that defined my personality as an adolescent.

One thing all of my family and most of my friends would agree on is that I was the very definition of weird.

I was always that odd child who embraced my oddness, which made me weird according to many.

Rewind – I was born premature and spent a lot of time in the NICU, this impacted my early life. Furthermore, I suffered many illnesses as a child which endeared me to many.

I point this out because it explains why all of my cousins and my sister had to go outside to play but I had a choice. It explains why I spent so much time with adults and often out of school during my entire elementary and secondary school years.

My beginning impacted the advantages and disadvantages of my life as a youth. I wasn’t exactly a spoiled child; however, I was possibly a bit sheltered. Specifically, due to the health related challenges I faced during my youth, my family made exceptions for me often.

I spent a lot of time with adults because I was unwell and receiving medical treatments. I also had a lot of doctor’s appointments that interrupted my childhood.

My cousin who is only a few months older than me taught me how to read and ignited my love of reading. We would enter the annual reading challenges hosted by our local library and attend storytelling sessions. Our parents and grandparents enjoyed this particular hobby of ours.

Not only was reading one of the least expensive hobbies at the time; my family was certain that our love of reading would translate into us pursuing and obtaining higher education and eventually careers that would spare us from many of the financial challenges they faced.

I loved reading everything…but I only stayed in the library for hours because my cousin (at the time she was the closest thing to a hero that I had) enjoyed the dusty place!

Really, she loved reading books in the library and then checking out other books to take home. I preferred to go to the library, choose books, return home, read books, and return them the following day.

She was my hero-peer mentor so I stayed at the library many times pretending to read the book I would check out to read in the comfort of my room.

This doesn’t sound weird to many of you I’m sure, but loving to read alone was not exactly cool!

Let’s talk about how I read. I mentioned reading in the comfort of my room, well there’s more to it than that. I sat in the corner – same corner every time – to read. I also put headphones (initially ear muffs) to block out the outside world while I read.

I still like to wear headphones when I read. Partially because people think I can’t hear them and I saw it on tv as a child and thought it was cool!

I didn’t like the outdoors so reading in the park – also something I saw on tv – was not remotely cool to me.

Another consistent theme in my youth is that I always spoke out for people especially when I felt that they were not being heard.

I spoke out for my family members regardless of their age in comparison to my own. I spoke out for my peers when I thought the teachers or even their parents ignored them.

I wrote letters to agencies when my snack cake wasn’t good lol! I’ll have to tell this one particular story later.

To be continued…remembering me