Hey there! It’s me again, Jenna, your friendly disabled therapist at Works Counseling Center. In my last blog post I wrote about me and what my disability entails to allow you to get to know me more. I wanted to dive deeper into my identity evolution as someone who has a disability, specifically how it has evolved in the workplace.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my identity and the parts of it that I feel confident in and the parts that maybe I’m not so confident in, one of those being my disability and how it is perceived by others. If you had asked me in middle and high school how I felt about my disability I don’t know if I would have been able to give you an answer. I never really allowed myself to feel insecure about my disability as a child, I don’t think I knew how or maybe I was afraid to feel insecure. My family also did a great job at protecting me from feeling insecure by including me in everything they did and adapting the games they would play so that I could play too. I never felt excluded more than any other youngest sibling does. I don’t know that I would change anything about the way my family guarded me from feeling different but I do wonder if I was able to process my insecurity then whether it would have prepared me for processing them now.

I have three older brothers who are all athletes and never stopped moving when we were growing up. Moving was hard for me so while they received awards for being really good at sports I focused all of my attention on academics. School was easy for me and I got a lot of

praise for my grades and intellect which allowed me to suppress any unpleasant feelings I had about my physical challenges. This drive for academics drove me to get my Master’s degree at Vanderbilt University where grades continued to matter too much to me. When I graduated with my Master’s degree it was time for me to get a job and all of a sudden the insecurity about my disability hit me like a ton of bricks.

When you leave school and no longer receive a grade to prove yourself it can be jarring (it definitely was for me). I now had to interview at various therapy practices around Nashville and while my brain and my intellect were a part of the employer’s evaluation of my fit for their practice so was my physical capabilities and my physical appearance. I was terrified. I hoped that at least one employer would see my skills as a therapist as valuable and not consider my disability and accommodations needed as a hindrance. When I interviewed at Works Counseling Center I knew I had found a place that was willing to take a chance on my skills and make accommodations as I needed them. I have never felt so accepted and valued (other than my family) than I do with my coworkers.

You’re probably wondering what the message of this blog post is and that’s such a great question I’m glad you asked it! My message is no matter what makes you different whether it be your race, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. there are communities out there where you will feel not only accepted but valued and you will find them! Until then I’m more than happy to provide a small space in my office for you to feel valuable! I’m happy to say I found a place where I feel like I fit in and if you’re reading this you have too and I’m happy you’re here!