On Monday morning, Andrea and Mikey did something that happens to me with regular frequency.
I told them there was no way I could ever waitress. I wouldn’t be able to hear people or take orders or make eye contact. They dismissed it out of hand and said I’d probably be really good at it.
The problem is this: I don’t get taken at my word.
There are things I cannot do. And not because I don’t want to try. I worked in a bread store one day and the smell of the bread was so overwhelming, I couldn’t take orders. It took a week for me to get over the one day I worked.
Shift work is also not a good idea. I need routine because it takes too much effort to plan out weeks with irregular schedules. I will mess up.
But even in the bigger scheme of things, having an invisible intellectual disability means that people measure me with a neurotypical yard stick and I will never measure up. It will just look like I’m not trying. Or I’m being obstinate. Or deceitful. Or exaggerating. Or stubbornly stupid. Willfully ignorant.
And, maybe, if I just applied myself I could reach my potential.
But this is me trying. This is me swimming against a powerful tide that no one else can see. This is me succeeding. This is me thriving. I’m earning a gold medal in getting by and a badge of honor in righting wrongs. I’m imperceptibly influencing people in ways that will alter the course of their entire lives.
I’m a tectonic shift whose change will be registered in the very ground for future generations to behold.
You don’t get paid a salary for that. The reward is when you see that you have broken through to someone. When the stigma recedes. When they start living more authentically.
I am happy to be paid in karma. Just as long as I can keep a roof over my head.