I have always had high expectations for myself. I worked hard in school and enjoyed learning. I knew that I wanted to go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree and then work full time after graduating. At 18-years-old, my hopes and dreams weren’t any different than those of any other high school senior. I was excited to begin classes in the fall of 2018. I was unsure about what I wanted to major in, but after my first semester, I eventually settled on communications. I had hopes of working in public relations or journalism.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I envisioned myself working for a newspaper or magazine as a journalist. This past summer, I published an opinion piece in my local newspaper. It was surreal to see my writing in the newspaper. I couldn’t believe I was actually in print instead of online.
Unfortunately, after going to the career center at Westfield State, I experienced my first instance of ableism in the world of employment. The career center staff was surprised to see me there. I immediately felt unwelcome there. A staff member even questioned why I was there at all. After looking for various opportunities, I contacted a local woman who runs a publishing business. Unfortunately, her home office isn’t wheelchair accessible. I was disappointed but wasn’t going to give up. I figured that there would be an opportunity for me somewhere. Since then, I’ve continued to look for jobs several times a week.
Yesterday, I wrote about my struggles with employment. I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs since 2019 and have only landed a few interviews. I have yet to land a job. Once employers find out that I have Cerebral Palsy, they don’t want to interview me. Cerebral Palsy is a physical disability, but it will not affect my ability to work if I find the right job. Ableism is the sole reason that I am unemployed right now. It’s not because I haven’t tried. I wish employers would embrace having people with disabilities as a part of their workforce.
I am currently working with my local MassHire Career Center to find a job and am hopeful that I’ll eventually find an opportunity. In the meantime, I am continuing to write on my blog daily, which I hope shows people what living with CP is like. I also hope to further my advocacy efforts for people with disabilities.
I’ve already accomplished one of my goals toward living an independent life, and getting a job will be the next step toward independence. Moving into my apartment was a huge step toward independence. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have my own apartment. It was a dream come true for me.
Cerebral Palsy does present challenges for me. However, ableism and related attitudes are more of a barrier than you might imagine. I want to live in a world where those with disabilities don’t have to fear being discriminated against. Everybody is worthy and can offer something to the world despite their challenges.