Making a big life change is scary, but I’ve come to find that regret is 100 times scarier. I recently accepted a job offer and officially report for duty two weeks from today. Although I’ve changed jobs several times in my career as a healthy, able-bodied individual, the idea of doing so as a chronically ill person with a moderate level of disability is pretty terrifying.
Several months back when I began searching for opportunities, I made a commitment to myself to accept an offer if the position was something that would challenge me intellectually without adding to my current stress and anxiety level. I’ve had some time to get used to the idea of switching jobs but just like everything else in life, it’s not real until it’s actually happening. Accepting the offer was almost automatic for me. The job meets all of my criteria, matches my skill set, and is something that I think I will actually enjoy doing so I feel like I should be overjoyed but I’m just not there yet. I’m relieved to be giving up the stress and responsibility (and the frequent travel) of my current job but for every ounce of excitement I feel for the new job, I am experiencing equal amounts of anxiety.
As I start the transfer of duties, I get a little bit more freaked out about the prospect of leaving everything that’s so comfortable and familiar and plunging into the unknown. I like to have all of the answers or at least know where to go to get the answers so even though my current job is super stressful, it’s comforting for me because it’s familiar. I’ll be leaving my current industry and entering one that’s totally new to me and the idea that I might feel lost and overwhelmed scares me. I worry about the big things like not knowing how to do something or not being good at it. I worry about the specifics such as not knowing my new co-workers’ personalities or what form of communication works best for each of them. I worry about the minor things like not knowing where to get good coffee close to my building or the best route from my parking lot to the building in the rain.
I worry about not having a friend to vent to when things get hard, but most of all, I worry about not having one single person that knows about my MS and the struggles that I experience on a daily basis.
My illness and my disabilities are not visible unless you know about them or are used to seeing them and the biggest insult anyone could ever give me is thinking that I completed a task and didn’t give it my all. My “all” doesn’t look like it used to and without context can be mistaken for laziness or inattention to detail. It’s difficult for me to fail at something or make a mistake and not be able to explain myself. The fear of having symptoms flare up or having a full-on relapse during my first few months of employment is weighing heavily on my mind and I find myself slipping back into that pattern of worrying about things I cannot control. Anxiety is a vicious cycle that’s difficult for me to break but writing about it helps and that’s where this blog helps to save the day.
Yesterday I had a quick, minor panic attack as I realized that 14 days from now my life will change pretty drastically but I also had a small moment of excitement as I thought about the prospect of starting over somewhere new where my illness doesn’t define me, where people don’t do the sad-eyed head tilt and ask “how are you doing?” every time they see me. The idea of just getting to be me again and not The Girl With MS is absolutely exhilarating and I can’t wait to see how it changes me.
Blind faith. That’s what this is called and although it scares the hell out of me, I kind of like it.