Nightmare for Me, Reality for Many Others

The nightmare (and yes, I actually had it last night):

I lost or left a job and frantically looked for a new one. I was hired as a CNA in a nursing home. I walked the hallways looking in at residents and other CNAs. It suddenly occurred to me that I was not being asked to do anything. I was roaming the halls shift after shift and other staff were just walking around me, smiling, striking up small talk… But never asking me to do anything. I felt confused and angry as I questioned in my mind why I was getting away  with not doing anything. I started to walk out because I started to feel guilty and stupid just standing around. Before I got in my car to escape, I decided I better go back and talk to a supervisor. Maybe this was all just a big mistake? Maybe they just hadn’t yet decided who I’d be working with yet? I talked to the supervisor and she stared at me blankly. She smiled and walked away. Everything stayed the same. Staff continued to walk around me. The confusion, anger, and horror boiled inside me, ultimately waking me.

The most horrify aspect of this dream is the fact that I actually have experienced such a scenario. I have never applied for a job I physically could not perform, but I have been in workplace or volunteer scenarios where other people would just walk around me. I guess they somehow thought just having me be there made it inclusive. It was not. It was humiliating, insulting, and just plain absurd. I would never apply for a job or volunteer for a task I could not do. It is truly amazing though, just how many people make assumptions about what I can or cannot do anyway, as if I would purposely humiliate myself. Obviously, I would not.

Like I said, the particular events occurring in my nightmare have not happened, but the feelings I had most certainly have. As a professional with disabilities, assumptions are made about my limitations all the time. Most often, people assume I am much more incapable than I am in reality. I am usually pretty good at shaking it off, but my nightmare demonstrates the horror exists and does sometimes haunt me.

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