Finding the Right-Fit Job or Career

It’s a myth that you can do what love and always be paid what you’re worth.

The solution is to have what’s commonly called a “side hustle”–a second job or income stream. In addition to your “day job.”

The fact is that when you work for a business or for anyone else you have no control over the trajectory of your work history.

How to gain control?

To be proactive in choosing a career that is the right fit with your personality.

In this blog I wrote about a year ago about taking a detour.

In my own life I spent 9 years in corporate and legal jobs. The first 7 years in insurance offices. The second 2 years in a law firm library.

Figuring out quick that though the new job was in the library field I wouldn’t get ahead playing by a supervisor’s rules. I was passed over for a promotion there. This turned out to be a good thing.

Today I’m a professional librarian in a public library. For close to 9 years I had a second job as the Health Guide at a mental health website.

The point is I didn’t recover until I found this job that was the right fit with my personality.

Wherever you work whenever you are subject to having a supervisor give you a performance review your career path is in someone else’s hand.

Thus my enduring urge to tell readers and audience members to have a second job or income stream in addition to our day jobs.

The yearly evaluation your supervisor gives you can seem capricious.

Though I favor acting true to yourself I remain skeptical about always disclosing your mental health issue to your boss and coworkers in the workplace.

This is because it can influence how your supervisor rates you and how much money you get in a raise.

Is this universally true? No it is not. Yet it is a distinct possibility.

Coming up in the next blog entry how to navigate what happens when you receive a performance review.

The better you like your job and what you do for 7 hours 5 days a week the easier it will be to take your yearly rating in stride.

My experience has been that different supervisors have different personalities. Their worldview and their own quirks in how they perceive other people factor into how they rate your performance.

I will use a “case study” approach from my own files to demonstrate why working at a job you love and having a side hustle could be the way to go.

Born This Way

In an earlier blog entry I talked about finding the work environment where you can be yourself and thrive.

My aim here is to give readers a shot in the arm of confidence so that you can Be Who You Are Not Who the World Wants You to Be like a magnet I bought attests.

The term Born This Way is a manifesto that everyone should be proud of.

I’ve been told over and over that I’m “the exception to the rule.” I feel crummy when I hear this. As if there is a stereotype of how people with schizophrenia live and act and dress.

Mumbling on the street. In tattered clothes. And what if one of us appears that way? We shouldn’t be viewed any worse than others.

This is what I don’t like as an author and a human being: I detest stereotyping people. That is: viewing everyone of the same race or gender or ethnicity or disability as having the same characteristics. Simply because of your interaction with one person of that race or gender or ethnicity or disability.

In this “disability box” outsiders use our symptoms as the proxy for who we are.

Outsiders can’t see beyond illness to accept us as “individuals who” have schizophrenia. Often it feels like our personality traits and our humanity are discounted as factors that enabled us to persist in the face of emotional challenges.

Our road might be harder yet that’s no excuse top give up. At the end of this blog entry I’ll give a link to an online Zoom event I cohosted at the 15th Annual Peer Conference in July.

The workshop was titled “Editorializing Lived Experiences: Creating an Authentic Voice and Impactful Message in Professional Writing.”

The key word in that title? Authentic.

To claim and assert our individuality is the only way you and can succeed in life and in recovery.

Maybe I knew this all along when I showed up to that day program in 1989 wearing vintage pajama pants in the summer?

The YouTube video of the Peer Conference Workshop is 1 hour 5 minutes.

You can watch and listen to it here: https://youtu.be/ktH1ZRi19gc

Self-Disclosure: Boon or Bust?

After reading an autobiography I’ve changed my mind about self-disclosure. Is self-disclosure a boon or bust?

Some food for thought on the pros and cons of telling others about your mental health history:

You must decide in the context of your own life what makes sense. In my view other people can feel burdened when you dump on them the details of your diagnosis as a matter of course. In the workplace it adds a layer between you and the other person.

On the other hand having a mental health challenge might give a person the reliability, consistency, and persistence to carry out their work and life goals on and off the job.

Stereotypes exist about people diagnosed with schizophrenia. This is why I make the case that a peer’s identity should not be defined by our symptoms. It places us in a diagnostic box that is hard to get out of. Unless you have a job in an evolved workplace where people are open-minded.

Seeing beyond diagnosis to the person inside is the goal as I see it. To “smash the stereotype” peers should act true to ourselves as individuals.

Like the leaders in The Queer Advantage it comes down to the fact that those of us who have struggled are often able to persist despite the hardship.

The skills, abilities, and strengths we use in recovery are the traits that give us the ability to succeed on the job.

My LinkedIn Profile refers to my memoir Left of the Dial. My story is out in the open this way on LinkedIn the professional networking site.

The trend going on now is for peers to tell our stories. I ask you though: does everyone in the world need to know every detail of our symptoms and illness? In my memoir I only gave readers what I talked about in the poem on the first page: some of me.

In this regard I was a fan of Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability. You need to trust the person you disclose to.

How will they use this information after you give it to them? My friend Robin was denied a promotion when a coworker he disclosed to tattled the diagnosis to a supervisor.

This is the reality in the often shark-tank world of corporate business.

On the other hand like said there can be an advantage to having a disability. Maybe a book should be titled The Mental Health Advantage.

Mental illness should not remain a taboo subject to talk about. A friend referenced me in giving a talk on a show about Italian culture. Referring to how I have come out about my experience in the way LGBTQ+ individuals are boldly talking about their lives.

The bottom line: our diagnosis does not define us. We need to define ourselves–or someone else will do this for us.

Who is Christina Bruni? I’m a Girl on the Left living her life Left of the Dial. My favorite color is green. I’m gregarious and down-to-earth.

Who are you? The world needs you and your gifts. Be not afraid to act true to yourself.

It’s your choice whether you disclose and what you tell people.

The Italian American writers’ group I belong to has a quote that sums this up well:

Only silence is shame.

Until mental health becomes a front-porch topic talked about over a glass of lemonade the secrecy will continue to breed fear and ignorance about what it’s like to live with a mental illness.

The Power of Identity

The Queer Advantage: Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity by Andrew Gelwicks is a book that was published in 2020.

Quoting esteemed individuals in different fields the author makes the case that acting true to yourself and being authentic is the only way to succeed on the job and in your life.

No one should feel guilty and ashamed for being who they are. In reality other people should not hate and judge you because of your identity.

From the book:

“Everyone should be able to bring all of themselves to the workplace and feel like they don’t have to hide or cover. You can only be your best when you embrace your authentic self… [It] is my lifelong commitment to achieving equality for all that has always been the driving force in everything I do.” 

     – Billie Jean King, Professional Tennis Player 

The question is: how do your bring all of you into your job when you have a mental health issue?

The choice is yours what to reveal and what to conceal. It’s still dice-y to disclose on a random workday as a matter of course.

The way I see it: the illness does not define me. I choose not to talk about it randomly or indiscriminately with the people I interact with on an ordinary day.

I would like that everyone walking down the street and in the corridors of a corporate office embraces and accepts individuals with mental illnesses.

Only I know we still have a way to go in terms of civil rights for those of us with a diagnosis.

Perhaps the way to chip away at other people’s fear of us is indeed to be open and honest about this facet of who we are.

We can take a tip from the leaders in The Queer Advantage.

It’s your right and preference to decide how open and honest you want to be.

In a future blog entry I will go into detail about the ins and outs of self-disclosure.