It’s hard to predict what’s next in life. We often think we have a tight grip on the next hour, day, month or even year. Then reality hits. We start to see how much control we’ve lost trying constantly be in control – of our time, money and seemingly everything else we have the power to manipulate.
It’s a continuous cycle which society functions upon – and gives us signals that it’s acceptable or healthy to think we can control everything around us. What if, however, we gave up a little bit of madness? What if we simply allowed things to happen, instead of always trying to force a situation to unfold or be resolved the way we want?
It was abundantly clear things were working in my favor when my sophomore year of college began. I had everything I wanted. Most importantly, I earned everything that came my way. I was riding a wave of momentum, but I had a feeling the rest of my college career couldn’t go as smoothly as it had been. Something had gone wrong or gotten in my way because that’s how I’ve always dealt with life.
I wasn’t hoping for anything to go wrong. Nor was I trying to let negative thoughts creep into my head. It all felt too good to be true, but I continued to enjoy the things I had worked for. I knew other people noticed I wasn’t “showing off” or simply aiming to get good grades. I was working hard because it was all I knew how to do – and I was now surrounded by published authors and writers who had already been to the top of the mountain I was climbing.
I’ve always known my disability doesn’t allow me to control many aspects of my own life. This, however, was something I did have full control over. I wasn’t going to let the wealth of knowledge from my professors slip through my fingers.
Not only that, but I wanted to prove to myself I could become the writer I always wanted to be. I slowly realized I was inadvertently crossing big things off of a list I never intended to write. These were things – like making worthwhile friendships and legitimately thinking about a life outside the realm of my cerebral palsy – that I would have shrugged off when I was younger. They felt so far away back then they almost didn’t seem real.
Yet, here I was – getting closer to finishing my sophomore year at Penn State Altona. I had two more years to go and began asking myself, ‘What’s going to happen after I graduate?’ and ‘Who’s going to hire me?’ I couldn’t stop thinking about those two things, because it was an uphill battle getting to the point where I could even consider attending college. I wanted everything I’d do after this – and every person I’d meet – to have a special place in my life.
It was around this time I met with a caseworker from an organization in my hometown of Altoona, PA. The organization aimed to help people with disabilities find steady employment. The caseworker whom I met with, however, was not convinced a career as a writer was the right thing to pursue. I was told it wasn’t a profitable decision, and I would never “make it” in the writing industry.
I was used to doubt. I was used to being told “no”, but this was my first time being completely shunned by someone who was supposed to help me. Moreover, I had never been told I couldn’t “be” something prior to this moment. There was a part of me expected this kind of treatment. The other part of me wanted to scream.
My confidence was crushed, but I kept going. I thought I was in the process of crossing another thing off my list by continuing with college when I was called into the Admissions Office at Penn State Altoona with my parents.
“Erin, we need to have a meeting right away,” the woman in charge of disability services on campus said.
“OK,” I replied., dumbfounded and confused. “What’s the meeting about?”
I maneuvered my wheelchair into a conference room to find my caseworker sitting there – with papers in front of her. I flipped the power button to my motor off and got as comfortable as I could.
My parents had sat down, as my caseworker proceeded to inform us it was time for me to get a job.
And I needed to leave college right then and there.
There was a mass of dead, thick air in the room as these words came out of her mouth. I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t know what to say. My parents, on the other hand, reacted with swift emotion.
“I don’t understand,” my mom chimed in, trying not to let her anger show. “Why do you want Erin to do this?”
“Well, she’s been in college for two years and hasn’t found employment yet.”
My parents fought this tooth and nail. I was distraught, but I listened. I left Penn State Altoona at the end of my sophomore year, graduating with an Associate’s degree in 2006 – in hopes of getting hired at a suitable job. The biggest problem was all the positions I applied for focused on quantity of work instead of quality. I had the efficiency, but not the speed.
I was at my wit’s end a year later. I was getting rejected at every turn, leaving me mentally exhausted. Little did I know, my next major decision would change my life again – even more than I thought possible.
You may not have all the control you want. You might not even know what to do with the control you have. At some point, you have to dig deep and drown out the noise the world makes. Your heart is the only thing you truly must listen to.
It’s never too early to start talking about Father’s Day on The Good Men Project. We’re looking for sponsors and contributors for our #ModernDayDad campaign. https://t.co/WJvKqq2kTe pic.twitter.com/j66LNCY0VG
— The Good Men Project (@GoodMenProject) March 11, 2019
We celebrate Gay Pride all year long. But this year, we’re doing some special programing for a large-scale campaign #LoveEqually. We’re looking for both sponsors and contributors. Check it out! https://t.co/tkraXFPxLL pic.twitter.com/X2FlBEZb8Y
— The Good Men Project (@GoodMenProject) March 11, 2019
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Image ID: 1389332783