I’m a pretty open person when it comes to the health-related crap I have to deal with. There are some things I don’t like to share, but not many. I’ll share about 98% of what I deal with when I talk to family and friends. Acquaintances hear a lot. I’m even pretty open with strangers. Until, that is, the topic of jobs comes up.
Last night was Valentine’s Day, so I did what so many singles do – I went to a singles party. This was a much better party than most, which is why I went. It had awesome people, it wasn’t in a club, there was some background music but it wasn’t too loud, and the entire point of the night was to have actual conversations with people and then exchange phone numbers/email with people you’re interested in. I’d gone once before, and this time was even better. I pushed my body hard and was thoroughly exhausted when I got home, but I felt it was worth it.
Aside from the aches and pains and exhaustion of standing so much, there was just one problem: the question, “What do you do?” This isn’t a very common question in some cultures. In Boston, it’s one of the first things people ask. They use it to define you, to learn more about you. It makes some sense, since people spend so many hours working. The problem is, how can I answer it? In general I’ll gladly tell someone that I’m not working because of health issues, but not if I think I might want to date them. I don’t want to scare them off yet!
I spent the night saying, “I’m not working right now.” But then the next question was always to ask what field I work in, and so many people asked if I’m looking for work, or what I’m looking for. I’ll be evasive, but I won’t lie, so that was a lot harder. I usually said I’m considering my options, which is true. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what kinds of work I could do when/if I’m able to work again, even part time. But I just know that on any first date, the subject will come up again, and what then?
In the long run, whoever I end up with will have to be ok with my health issues and my inability to work, at least right now. The issue is that I want to introduce the topic slowly, and on my own terms. I want them to get to know the parts of me that aren’t controlled by my health problems, and that’s hard to do if health problems are the first thing they learn about it.
It feels like I’m trying to navigate a minefield. So I’m going slowly, one step at a time. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m hoping that maybe, one of these days, I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments.