I’m not entirely sure I’m doing the right thing. Why on earth would I want to go back to work after being ‘retired’ for almost nine years?
But I do have my reasons.
It was a long process to get my social security disability, but it paid off in the end. I received a nice back paycheck when they finally started sending me checks every month, and I could help my boyfriend buy a house for us.
But in the back of my mind, I felt ‘less than.’ I know I didn’t fake my symptoms, and someone who takes as much medication as I do for my mental health is obviously impaired, but I felt like I cheated myself and the people I could help if I worked.
You see, I’m bipolar, and the world isn’t always a good place for me to be. At least, that was the way it felt before I met a doctor who worked with me to find the right combination of meds. And now, I’ve been stable for over two years. Oh, I still have days where I’m blue and a few where I’m on top of the world–but they’re the same as most people experience. I’m not manic or in the black hole of depression where I used to live.
About a month ago, I was scrolling through the local news, and I saw a small ad for a Customer Service Representative for a bank. My advanced degrees are in business, and this job is small, but essential. I’ve always believed that it should pay those who work with the customers the big bucks, but most CEOs don’t agree with me.
But this job wouldn’t bring the stress that comes with high-level accounting. I could leave my desk at the end of the day without bringing home work or even the notion of work. When you work on the phone for eight hours, when the last phone call of the day is done, it’s over. You get to go home and enjoy your non-work life.
So, I put together a simple resume highlighting the customer service aspects of my past experiences and sent it to the HR department. It wasn’t long before I received an email inviting me to take their online test. And I think I must have done well because it was only five minutes after I submitted the test that I received another email asking me to set up a time to talk to an HR representative.
That phone interview snagged the opportunity for my resume and HR’s notes to be forwarded to the hiring manager. They offered me the job, pending my background check.
Now, I’m not entirely sure why I was so concerned about the process, but when you know the FBI may have a file on you from something that happened almost fifty years ago, your heart stops. So, I held my breath for the two days it took to check my fingerprints and record.
I now have a job.
My start date is three weeks away, and I’m glad I have the time to put things to return to work. For one thing, I don’t have the clothes I need to be ‘business casual.’ So, I just placed an order for slacks and blouses, knowing that my jeans and t-shirts just won’t cut it.
Am I excited or scared? Maybe I’m both. I’m excited to be out of the house daily. The thought of being away from my couch and constantly searching for something to watch on TV is thrilling.
But the thought of having to interact with people every day is frightening. Oh, I’m not worried about the people on the other end of the phone. No, I’m concerned about the people I’ll be working with. Sure, I’ll have my own cubicle and desk, but there are team meetings and reviews from supervisors.
And therein lies the biggest problem. My personality traits make me want to acknowledge how intelligent I am–and others aren’t. I’ve rarely felt that my supervisor could do the job as well as I could, and I struggle with how my coworkers want to complain about the traffic on the way in continually, the weather, or how much their weekend sucked.
I really don’t care.
I want to get on the phone and talk to people who only exist as a voice. I don’t think I could do the job if it required me to do video chats. The anonymity of the phone is something I like. And I love being able to make faces at the rude or ignorant callers. It is part of the fun.
When they review my work, and the supervisor must find tiny things to correct me, I want to scream. But I guess I need to accept those things now.
I’m returning to work to increase the money I bring into the household. But I’m giving up social security for a few years, along with Medicare and cheap prescriptions. Will I miss those things? I guess I’ll see.
A decision I may regret could be extremely detrimental to me at this point in my life. I’m going to be sixty-four years old in just a few weeks. And while my health isn’t too bad compared to my contemporaries, I do take a lot of meds. But those meds keep me in check and probably save others from my temper.
So, October twenty-fourth is a big day. I will drive myself to an office and present myself to security. They will issue me a badge and send me to a classroom. For the first seven weeks, I will learn about the job, company, and procedures. I excel in classrooms, but the next step will require me to use every skill I’ve accumulated since I began working when I was sixteen–many years ago.
Returning to work is a part of my return to the world. I will not be a ‘less than’ type of being anymore. I will be a contributing member of society.
And even though I only plan to work for three years, it will be the capstone of my career.