Mission Work... And Confidence



Like many others who struggle with mental illnesses, I have a broken work history. Some of this is due to my own self-sabotage: I can be my own worst enemy. Just when things are going swimmingly, I manufacture crises -- like stopping a key medication. At other times, I simply have had episodes while working or interning and have had to give up the position. In this case, it is not my fault: This is a result of illness.


I have had to learn to be gentle with myself about what I can and cannot do. I am a sensitive person -- "I feel all the feels," as someone once put it. A demanding and harsh boss can be crushing to me. I just don't deal well with hostile work environments. But then -- really -- even people without mental illness don't bear up well under these conditions. I have to go easy on myself. 

I thrive under supportive bosses, giving 110 percent. The key is searching out and finding these supportive work environments. Really, you may not know until you actually start working, but there could be indicators in the hiring process. My own current position I found through volunteering -- I knew that I liked the place before I agreed to come on board. 

Now, this supportive work environment is giving me the tools to deal with my anxiety. As I have successes at work, my self confidence is growing. I am a trusted team member, with a lot of responsibility. Since I started out as a volunteer, this responsibility started small and grew over time -- as I proved myself, I kept stepping up levels. This has been ideal.

As it stands now, I have new ideas and pitch them to my boss: Can we try this? What if we did this differently? Or sometimes, she will come to me with ideas. Not all ideas are accepted, but all are welcomed. 

My work has been such a huge part of my recovery. I find that, after several days at work, several days of rising to the occasion and meeting the demands of my workplace, my anxiety at dealing with the things in life that scare me is considerably lessened. It is like receiving a shot in the arm of confidence.

As a communications coordinator, I get to put my writing skills and my fledgling graphic design skills to use on behalf of my nonprofit. There is an enormous satisfaction to knowing that my gifts are being used for good -- not only for good, but for faith-based mission work. This, too, is boosting my self-esteem. 

You see, for so long, I perceived myself as fundamentally broken. I asked, "Why me, God?" over and over. Now, it gives me great joy to be in a place where I am able to use my gifts to benefit people in need. Maybe I am not so broken, after all, I think. Or maybe this is what some broken people look like -- having suffered transforming pain, they have broken-open hearts.  

Having mission work gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It has been one of God's beautiful gifts to me as I have gained in wellness. But I know our ultimate sense of purpose and fulfillment comes from God. If I keep leaning on him, the mission work will follow as well -- and so will the confidence.            

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