“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
I’m 33, and graduated from school, but I’m still getting homework. Self-discovery, relaxation techniques and relationship work. Even when I was working at the nursing home and cared enough to try to develop new programs, those things in life that never truly seem like homework, because of my own personal interest. The constant continuum of growing, of being. But now my homework assignments are directed toward yoga, or self discovery; and working on this blog. My current assignment is to not identify myself with what I do, but with who I am. I know who I am, or am learning to know who I am. I need to remember that we are human beings, not human doings.
I won’t say that I’m going through an identity crisis (but I am going through an identity crisis), I think I just need to define who I am.
I have always identified myself as being a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist or Activities Therapist/Assistant, working with the elderly on the Special Care Unit of a nursing home. Now that my hours at the nursing home have been reduced to working one day a week and every other weekend, I feel the need to define myself in a different way. Or, I guess I wasn’t really defining my SELF by saying that I am a Activities Assistant at a nursing home, that’s not ME- yes I may have worked in a nursing home, but that does not state all that I AM. Just like our TR courses at Longwood University taught that when speaking of people with disabilities, not to identify them as a disabled person, but instead a person with a disability. [Think of how awkward it was for me being in this class, that was know as ‘Phys Dis’ (Working with people with Physical Disabilities) while I was a young student walking around campus with a cane. Once, our professor gave everyone in class the assignment to ambulate around campus for an entire day using a wheelchair. Everyone EXCEPT Danielle. The professor was not trying to be mean, or insulting, she just thought that I already know what it feels like to be looked at as different by my peers, or how much harder everything is when one has physical limitations. I felt it was almost reverse discrimination, but truthfully, I was glad to get out of the assignment one less paper to write! and it would really give me unneeded frustrations all over again] …I digress… Just like those individuals with disabilities, I am not merely a nursing home Activities Assistant, I am a young woman working in a nursing home as an Activities Assistant. But more than that, more than accomplishments, which may play a part in it, but only to better define my characteristics.
I have achieved so much, with my own determination and intrinsic drive. All throughout the rehabilitation process I tried so hard I am a caring, compassionate person, which has also turned me into some one who wants to be helpful. I am also a bubbly, friendly,outgoing, extroverted social woman. A people pleaser who hates to say no although that is the hardest thing to admit, that I CAN’T do something… I just want to have the equal capabilities as everyone else. But who is everyone else, and what are their perfects? I just want to get all A’s in everything, in the quiz that is called life. Ya, ya, what is that quiz, and aren’t we always learning? I’d rather get everything right, right now… I want to hit all the poses correctly and hold them as long as possible in yoga classes, be amazingly flexible, and not fall off balance. My aim is so high, that even with my limitations, I want to be the absolute best. STRIVE FOR PERFECTION; Better than others, (or even as good as) and this is what drives me crazy. Everyone has their own strengths and weakness, [taking words from my yoga teacher] even Oscar Wilde said,
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
However, my wise yoga teacher tells me that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. My perfect will not be the same as your perfect, whatever. At the nursing home, I thought that only I could do it right, I am the staff member that connects best with the families, who the residents like more, and has all the energy at that floor of the nursing home. You would always find me laughing, dancing, making jokes with the residents, and truly caring what they have to say. I think I need to start giving credit to my other coworkers. They are holding it all together without me, and the Special Care Unit of the nursing home is functioning pretty well without me. Well, everything’s getting done. We have had a few family members complain about the level of excitement on our floor now, (ever since I’ve learned about my drastic reduction and almost elimination from the activity team at the end of March, I’ve stopped trying. I just don’t feel part of the ‘team’ anymore- I’m more like the help when needed.) I’d like to think that the loss of excitement is because of me. 🙂 I know it’s because of the budget and has nothing to do with me and my performance blah, blah… But now I’m actually turning the direction of my main career.
Yes, I do have a brain injury, I do have a harder time ‘getting what you say’ the first time around, but I am super energetic and fun. I went to college to study how to work with this population and others effected by similar disabilities. BUT I DID GRADUATE COLLEGE. And going to college with a brain injury was extremely hard. A lot of coping mechanisms needed to be learned- only I learned these through trial and error. I did a lot of soul searching in college. It it is my single dorm room in Frazer hall where I thought I had discovered my purpose. To help others by being a recreation therapist! Sure I still am helping others through being a recreation therapist, but I am also helping others by advocating for people with traumatic brain injuries.
This yoga teacher has helped me find a purpose (for now anyway) in writing, sharing my Traumatic Brain Injury experiences with others, I plan to go to a TBI support group meeting at the end of the month to let others know about my coping mechanisms through this life rehabilitation process. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Truthfully, I don’t think homework is such a bad thing. It is an expanding of our horizons; only instead of grades in school, this is a time of self discovery.