By Amy Temple
I have dealt with all sorts of rejection ever since I was diagnosed with a learning disability at the age of 5.
In school, I was bullied and harassed practically every day. It was very traumatic and left me with feelings of fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. I found it hard to trust. Lord knows I wanted to be more open and friendly but the worry over being humiliated was much too great for me too handle.
After graduating and receiving my diploma. I went on to attend a vocational school where I received a certification in general secretary work, soon after I entered a job program for the disabled. While that was my first job and I was excited to start my life as well as my career. This job proved to not be such a happy start for me as I got my first real experience within the workplace of how society really felt about individuals with learning incapacities.
During the annual review, that’s when EVERYTHING came to a head and my presumptions became a realization! The program director just blurted out and told me, that I would never live above the poverty level. And to put the icing on the cake, he topped it off by saying “Amy will always be on welfare.” So, in other words, the degree I worked so hard to get was a complete waste of my time because according to him “I am just too damn STUPID!” At the end of the meeting, we had the option to terminate the contract.
We took it.
The job interviews after that proved to be very uncomfortable per the faces of the people interviewing me who clearly were viewing my problem, rather than my certification which qualified me to work. It was very clear they were only allowing the interview so they would not be at risk for a discriminatory lawsuit.
During this phase, it was also becoming very obvious that the program coordinators were slacking up on finding me employment. The job coach assigned to my case was not that reliable either. Most of the interviews I went on were jobs that I’d found on my own. My parents on more than one occasion had to give me a ride to the job leads due to the coach being M.I.A.
With my parents’ help, I continued looking for regular employment. To get out of the house, I began volunteering at a local assisted living facilities where I helped with daily activities.
Every month I must have gone on several job interviews. I even went back to the same vocational training center I attended in high school and became certified in Medical Secretary work where I had multiple internships at a local hospital.
One day I had applied for a position at the medical center of the retirement home I was volunteering for and soon discovered I was one of three finalists and the hiring manager wanted each of us to do a two-week internship. I didn’t get the job…
I must confess, I was surprised as I had the most experience. After speaking with the hiring manager, I discovered the two medical secretaries I was working under had lied about my performance. The one hired was a friend of theirs.
I remember having a conversation with the other candidate. She was a single mother wanting to provide a better life for her kids. If anyone else deserved the job, it was her! My heart just went out to that family. I couldn’t get over how low those two secretaries went just to get their friend the position.
After that, I decided I was not pursuing the 9-5 life anymore. I didn’t want any part of a life that was going to viciously discriminate and/or stab someone in the back like that.
Fast forward nearly twenty years later & after MUCH self-examination, I have made peace with how society feels about me.
I got hopes. I got goals. I got dreams.
And, I intend on making them all come true. I’m 42 years young! & The LAST thing I don’t have time for? Is figuring out why certain people hate me. Over It! Done!
Amy is a resident of Florida. Since 2006, she has been self-employed in the dog care field. In May 2017, she self-published a memoir titled “I Am Not Stupid” which is available through Amazon. She writes for seethegoodinfo, an inspirational website and the Learning Disabilities Association’s newsletter LD Source.