• Hanifah Jones

New Job, Imposter Syndrome, and Flare-Ups, Oh My!

Where do I begin? The past two months have been a rollercoaster ride as I started a full-time job, moved into my first apartment, and experienced complications with my health. My introduction to “adulthood” came with a lot of stress, so I decided to take a creative hiatus. I just wasn’t in a mental space where I was able to write for myself.

On my first day of work, I put on a lavender power suit and walked into my office with enough naivety to fill a room. However, that false sense of confidence completely went away the moment I realized that I had no idea what I was doing.

You know the feeling you get when your teacher asks a question in class, and you enthusiastically raise your hand only to shout out the wrong answer? That sums up my first month of work. I found myself making embarrassing mistakes and experiencing imposter syndrome. For those of you who don’t know, imposter syndrome is a lack of self-confidence that causes you to believe you don’t deserve your accomplishments. Getting constant flare-ups during work wasn’t helping.

Two weeks into my new job, I noticed my Fibromyalgia getting increasingly worse. I would get sharp pains throughout my body, my fingers would ache, and even worse, I felt like my brain didn’t work. The cognitive symptoms of Fibromyalgia are just as bad as the physical ones, and for someone who writes for a living, it can contribute to complications at work. I was super stressed out and frustrated, so I decided to make a change.

When you’re living with a chronic illness, the last thing you want is to feel like you need special treatment. Instead of asking for extended deadlines, I began to take my time with assignments. I reached out to coworkers for advice and learned valuable skills. My struggles with my health also encouraged me to see a doctor. As someone who was able to hit the gym every other day last year, I couldn’t believe I was struggling to walk down flights of stairs. I finally listened to my body and went to see a new Rheumatologist. She confirmed that my Fibromyalgia was intensifying and also diagnosed me with hypermobility. While some people have the fun kind of hypermobility that allows them to do cool tricks with their body, my hypermobility is different.

To sum it up, my joints are too flexible and prone to injury. While someone with a “normal” nervous system may not feel these injuries, having Fibromyalgia causes my pain sensors to go overboard. My doctor told me to start physical therapy, and then I can try to make my way back to the gym. Thankfully there’s a physical therapy center right near my job.

I’m happy to announce that my hiatus is officially over! I was offered a freelance position at The Girls Room, an online publication that celebrates women and inspiring sisterhood. Working with TGR has been a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on.

Things are also much better at work, I enjoy my job, and I appreciate the opportunities it’s given me. If you think your education ends at college, I have some sad news for you. The “real world” is a never-ending lesson. It took me a while, but I finally got to a point where I was able to learn from my mistakes.

Take every opportunity to learn while you’re at work. Yes, you’re there to do your job, but you’re also there to expand your personal growth. I learned that I am much stronger than I think I am. Working with a chronic illness can be difficult, but it’s something that over 133 million people experience every day. If you are living with a chronic illness and entering the workforce, check out my latest Linkedin article for tips!

How has adulthood been treating you? Share your “real world” experiences with me in the comments below!

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