I had always thought of myself as responsible and all that entails: hard-working, self-motivated, and self-disciplined. My conscientiousness was even seen in the way I limited myself to two Friends episodes in a row to avoid the embarrassment when Netflix condescendingly asks, “Are you still watching Netflix?” (For all of you binge-watchers out there, you’ll be happy to hear I am now a reformed limiter and have been asked this question on several occasions.)
However, I was recently taken aback by the realization that I had fallen victim to the tricky tactics of procrastination. I really did not see it coming, but there it was. How did this happen?
To better understand my surprise, let me add some context. I have been a student at CMU off and on for the past 12 years. Because of my physical disability, I have only been able to take one or two courses at a time, slowly chipping away at my BA. I struggle a lot with fatigue but have poured myself into every assignment, partly due to pesky perfectionist tendencies and partly for the sheer joy of learning. I have loved my time at CMU, feeling nothing but support and encouragement from faculty and staff. But when it came to my practicum, I felt panicked.
I have actually dreaded the practicum requirement since Day 1 of attending CMU. I have never had a traditional job before and practicum would be my first real taste of what adulthood will look like. For me, there were so many tedious, and sometimes scary, details to consider:
- Full-time or part-time? Definitely part-time.
- Work outside the home or from home? Hopefully from home.
- If that doesn’t work out, is the workplace accessible? Like, totally accessible?
- Would my attendant come to work with me? Possibly but would it be weird to have an attendant with me in a cubicle?
I won’t bore you with more details but this really was just the tip of the logistical iceberg. These thoughts swirled in my mind for about a decade. It wasn’t until my transcript read, “111 credit hours completed“ that I knew I had run out of time to procrastinate. (I even chose to participate in graduation this past April before I did my practicum!)
When I met with my practicum adviser last year to start planning my practicum, I came to the meeting with a glimmer of hope and a bundle of anxiety. I was so nervous to start the process of finding a work placement with how little physical abilities I had to offer.
Well, to my absolute amazement the meeting went remarkably well! In a short amount of time, huge progress was made in terms of figuring out the logistics of my placement.
So, what for 10 years had been holding me captive had now been set free. I was dreading this process for so long, feeling that the stakes were too high and my abilities too low to have success. But now that I’m here, it’s not as hopeless as I thought.
On September 23, 2018 I officially started my practicum at Society for Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD) and I am thrilled with how it’s going so far. My supervisor has been wonderful and it has been exciting to have an opportunity to explore my passions for disability services, writing, and advocacy. Now that I am in my second term, it is amazing to me how manageable life can seem when you have people around you who want you to succeed.
This is not to say that I am magically problem-free. There are still harsh realities I face every single day being a person with a disability. However, I have learned three valuable lessons during this process that make these realities a little less daunting:
- People are kinder and more gracious than I thought. They are more willing to accommodate my unique needs and even find a way to make me feel like I have something to offer.
- God is more in control than I thought. He is kinder and more loving than I gave Him credit. He only wants the best for me, so I don’t know why I put His abilities in a box by thinking my circumstances were too much of an obstacle for Him. My Jesus has got this.
- Procrastination might seem cool on the surface but it is really just fear masquerading in skinny jeans. Putting responsibilities off and avoiding the inevitable only feeds the voice inside of you that tells you the cost of showing up and trying is too high. Don’t believe the lies!
If I would’ve known these truths 10 years ago, I would not have let the fear of practicum rule my thoughts and actions.
So, what is something in your life you have been dreading that gives you that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of anxiety at the mere thought? Maybe you are wanting to apply to university but feel intimidated by the work load or maybe you are planning your own practicum but don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you are going to be graduating from CMU soon but feel you have no idea where to go from here.
Well, I am here to tell you that it might not be as insurmountable as you are expecting.
*Adapted for #myCMUlife from “Breathe In, Breathe Out” originally posted on Beautiful, Complicated Life.