On Monday, June 15, I received my layoff notice, and my life nearly flipped upside down.  Nine days later, on June 24, I received a job offer from my second interview.  No one is more surprised than me!  My first day was today, and I am still coming down from the emotional and mental overload that arriving at a new workplace always brings.  Even something as basic as setting up my desk the way I want it seems like this impossible task when coupled with figuring out who’s in which office, updating my screen reader so that it can be used on their system, and dealing with the sheer amount of information that looks so effortless when it’s being processed by someone else.  That having been said, I am thrilled to be employed again, so quickly, and based on my own description of my capabilities.  They’ve welcomed Jenny and I with open arms, given me a great space to work in, and put an air purifier at my desk because another coworker has allergies to dogs.  I feel like I can use my own experience in both administrative work and customer service and improve on skills that have gone by the wayside (writing by hand, for example).  Words cannot express my joy at the way my life has turned around so quickly.

And yet…

Alongside that joy and relief and complex sense of nervousness comes a strange feeling of guilt.  Guilt because I have succeeded while many I know are still struggling.  Some I know and love have struggled for months to find consistent work, some forced to do day jobs to help make ends meet; others (primarily visually impaired friends( have struggled and fought for years for an opportunity like mine.  There are even those who have been turned down for job after job after job, been turned down so many times that they have given up.  I have no idea what to do with this feeling, beyond being the best hardest worker I can be at whatever I do.  People talk, and while I know I am not the only topic of conversation at the office, the fact is that I DO represent blind people to those who work with me.  I will never be perfect, after all (like Meagan so eloquently put it, it’s a human thing), but it is a very small professional world out there; every job I have ever had almost creepily – if peripherally – included someone who had a connection to a job I had before.  My previous employer went to university with someone who was also visually impaired, and I firmly believed that experience enabled him to advocate on my behalf.  So without putting too much pressure on myself, I hope my own experience, work ethic, and willingness to make things work will enable me to push back and advocate by proxy for you, whoever and wherever you are.