I want to research different forms of workplace discrimination. I suspect that since many with disabilities volunteer and/or work in temporary jobs, there might not be much research on grounds for legal action. Work is stressful for us all, but even more so when you struggle with NLD. Success at work is very dependent on one’s social skills and how easily you interact with others. If you, for instance have trouble approaching people, coworkers might see the behavior as antisocial, when in fact you just have anxiety.
Most colleges don’t help much with planning for a viable career, which leaves the NLD student in a tough spot. Many times one must apply for the most marketable majors, and departments limit the number of students they accept. My advice is to get a marketable degree. I studied literature and writing–typical NLD strengths–but this background did not lead directly to work. I’ve worked in legal settings, but mostly as a volunteer. I’ve found that volunteer work varies.
For the past year, I’ve searched for work and attended some 30 interviews. Despite having a great resume, none of my interviews resulted in work. I’m not good at selling myself. Interviews are kind of like wine tastings. Interviewers rate people based on flavor. My affect is somewhat flat, particularly when I don’t know someone, v. employers want sparkles and fizz. Strangely, when I do my artistic activities, virtually all my NLD awkwardness goes away. Expressions flow and I feel very comfortable in this medium. I hope more arts programs will be in school systems.
Corporate America, and sometimes the nonprofit sector, too, prizes extroverted people who excel at surface-level relating. Most of the time, NLD traits are more reserved and hesitant, more pulled back. We may struggle with eye contact and smooth posture. We look strained much of the time, even if we don’t feel particularly so.
Lately I’ve done most of my grocery-shopping in the produce section due to the wider spaces. I’d been avoiding this errand in favor of seeing movies, and finally had to drag myself in there. I didn’t want to complain to friends or family, as I love being independent (plus worked with blood, sweat, and tears for the level of independence I do have), but what a trashy feeling to be in a store afraid of walking into someone or vice versa. I still get my shopping done, but never without some degree of financial worry, since I’ve been unemployed for a year now, and will not have time for a paid job in my graduate program (though will do internship work).
One of the things that helps me is remembering I will have a rehabilitative focus in my future internships. I identify with my future clients–people in legal conflicts–because at certain times, I too have received full blame for things that often weren’t really my responsibility. But I have lived, largely due to the effects of NLD, with the consequences anyway, and bear witness to these events as I contemplate my survival.
I’m not sure how it happened, given all the setbacks, and my fear of failure now, but I am very fortunate to be alive and reasonably healthy. If you’re reading this and have NLD, remember that there are ways to solve problems and ways to deal with the ones you can’t solve. What a tough time it sometimes is!
I have some very important advice: if you’re not sure about someone, it’s probably a good idea to minimize contact until you are, and get some advice about the specific situation. There’s lots of very manipulative people standing in line waiting to take advantage of others. We with NLD must be vigilant and stand up for ourselves.