I don’t have anything to offer myself. What could I possibly have to offer anyone else? What could I offer the world? I don’t even have an ego or the narcissism needed to make me feel like I have anything to contribute to anything, whether I actually do or not.
It feels wrong to exist and yet be completely useless. It’s almost like I’m being punished for some cosmic sin that I’ll never be privy to. Always here. Never purposeful. And in a society where you are what you can do. I’m no one. I’m nowhere. I’m nothing. A shadow of a shadow that can never be no matter how much I may try. And I did try. Once.
I don’t remember if I’ve talked about this before or not, and really don’t care, but about 15 years ago now I got a job working for a company that they themselves helped people with psychological issues find and keep work. It was a bit of a strange situation. I actually started out as one of their clients. What they would do was run you through a battery of tests to determine what you’re skills were and as such, which jobs to look into for you. I tested off the charts in every catagory. It wasn’t hard. It seems the tests were designed for developmentally disabled people more than anything.
So my worker tells me that she’s not sure what kind of job to look for for me when she mentions that they themselves actually have a position available for a client that was specifically created by the DOR (Department Of Rehabilitation) as a sort of stepping stone into an office environment. It was pretty quick and before I knew it I had been offered the job and accepted. Big mistake. On both our parts.
The work was very limited consisting of calling previous clients at certain intervals in order to perform a telephone survey with them about where they were after being placed. Things like if they were still working and how well they felt the program had worked for them. The DOR wanted to start tracking clients to ensure things were working out as they had hoped. I did this, as well as other paperwork, for three days a week three hours a day. It was an incredibly simply job but it wasn’t the work that was going to be my biggest challenge.
My first day I got up, got dressed, took the train all the way to the office, walked the three or four blocks beyond that, and then decided to pace around outside for a while before my anxiety finally got the best of me and I went home. I just couldn’t go inside. I’m sure they could see me out there on the sidewalk but no one came out to check on me. I felt so incredibly destroyed after that. Later I learned that when they had told me that I could set my own days and hours that they had really meant it. As long as I eventually showed up and worked my hours, they were happy. At first that helped a lot. Latter it became an issue.
So, the next day I finally worked up the courage to show up. I even went inside the building and everything! I was introduced to the horribly unkempt file cabinet that I would be using and shown the surveys that they wanted me to perform and how to enter them into the main computer system. Things ran rather smoothly for a while but my days and hours were erratic. Eventually my supervisor took me aside and talked with me about that. Again, this was a job to introduce me to an office environment so that I could later get a real job as such. No other job was going to put up with me missing days and hours regularly, no matter how simplistic the work was or how quickly I could get it done.
With the new year just around the corner I resolved that I was going to actually show up every day for my allotted hours, which had eventually been decided upon as three hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to three, and for months I did just that. I had one incident where I threw my back out and had to miss two days but outside of that I had been showing up, even if all I did was sit at my desk and pretend to shuffle papers as often that was all there was for me to do.
Every few months myself, my supervisor, and the DOR representative at the office would sit down and discuss how I was doing and where I needed improvement. My last assessment had not gone well. This time however, things were going to be different. In a very good way. I was certain of that.
I was wrong.
I went into my assessment very happy and proud of myself that I had missed only two days in over four months, and those two days only because I couldn’t walk. I had been doing everything I had been taught, including calling in when I was going to be out that day. I thought things were going incredibly well. Apparently my supervisor thought otherwise. As soon as he opened his mouth and started talking about how I was still continuing to miss work regularly my entire sense of self worth evaporated. I had gone into the appointment feeling good. I came out wondering how much longer I was going to be able to hold out before quitting. I didn’t want to quit, it just felt like I wasn’t wanted there any longer. I don’t really remember the rest of the appointment other than how I just wanted to get away and about what a gigantic waste of time trying had actually turned out to be.
My contract for that position was for a year and a half, and I might have been able to finish it out still if everything had stayed the way it was. But it didn’t. So I couldn’t. Almost a year after I had begun working for them and not long after my disastrous appointment with my supervisor and the DOR rep, the office began to undergo massive changes. Changes that ended up impacting me in a very negative way. First, my desk was taken away. Before I had had my own place to work. Now all of a sudden I was expected to work from within one of the interview rooms, when they weren’t occupied, which was almost never. With my desk went my computer as well. I was given, instead of one of the new Windows PCs that everyone else was using and lined the back wall for client use, an old Apple computer that very much felt like a hand-me-down that someone had dug out of their closet. It ran terribly and none of the preexisting software worked on it, nor could it access the office network, something that requiring me to perform data entry twice for no reason.
More and more my impression was that they didn’t want me there and as a result I started missing more and more work. One day I came into the office and found myself spending my entire allotted hours waiting in the front area because I wasn’t allowed to work in the interview room if anyone else was in there. When my three hours were over I simply got up and went home without a word to anyone. I never went back.
A month or two later I got my sister to call and quit for me because I simply couldn’t deal with it. As much as I felt that they had driven me out, I still felt like I had failed. Strangely, they had never once called to see where I was or why I hadn’t been into the office for the weeks/months that had passed before my sister had called for me. I took that as more conformation that I had been right and that they really did want me gone.
I haven’t worked since then. Haven’t tried at all. When people paid and specially trained to deal with you can fail so spectacularly, it kind of discourages you. Ever since I’ve been so afraid of working that I just don’t see it ever happening again. Compound that with the knowledge that before this even happened that I had attempted to volunteer at numerous places only to be rebuffed over and over again.
Example: I tried to volunteer at the local YMCA. The guy who hired volunteers asked me if I knew anything about soccer. I told him no, as I didn’t. He then told me that they were only looking for volunteers to help with their kids summer soccer program. Fair enough. On the way out I mentioned how it was too bad that was all they were looking for as I had already tried to volunteer at a few places before that to one of the office staff. She looked at me kind of angrily and said that they were seriously looking for people to help at the front desk because they were so short handed and what the hell was he doing turning away volunteers in the first place and… I think you catch my drift.
Yep. I so wanted to do anything at the time that I had applied to several places to volunteer and not one of them wanted me. Most simply never got back to me. The local library told me that I needed to have a degree? A degree to shelve books. Really? No one can convince me that all of that wasn’t some kind of sign from the universe that I wasn’t supposed to be working in any capacity.
You really do stop trying after a while. After enough failures, enough… Well, after you’ve just had enough. I’ve accepted that I’m supposed to be a little nothing with my nothing existence in my little nothing corner of the world trying to stay out from under foot.
It’s better this way, right? It’s better. It’s…