From chronic student to chronic workerRecently I’ve transitioned from student to worker.

I have one more year of school, but this summer, I have no classes and am balancing two internships.

That means that I am working full-time, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., four days a week.

In some ways, being a student affords more flexibility than being a worker.  Minimal time is spent in the classroom and the rest of the time is spent doing work and studying, usually at home.

But working full-time means having to be away from home for more than seven hours a day. 

This means that I don’t have the ability to have a rest period, something I realize is more and more essential for me.​

Needless to say, this has been a difficult and exhausting transition.

While I love what I’m doing, I am beginning to understand why many of the chronically ill people I know are self-employed.

This experience has made me realize that I really need to think about the future in this regard, because as I said, once school is finished next May, I won’t be a student anymore and will have to face the reality of what that means for my career and my life.

I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to experience this transitional period, and what it means to be a worker as opposed to a student, but it is also a bit sobering to be questioning whether or not I will be able to be a full-time worker who enjoys and feels fulfilled by my career, and maintain my health.

Of course, my health comes first, because if I can’t function in any part of my life, that defeats the whole purpose.     

But the idea of having quality health insurance and guaranteed employment is very appealing, considering the stress that comes with those unknowns, and how stress impacts my illnesses. 

Contrary to what some may think, it has never been my plan to be a student forever.  And as difficult as my experience has been dealing with chronic illness in higher education, there is definitely a measure of flexibility that you don’t have in a traditional 9 to 5 job, which is sort of ironic.

I do hope that being in health advocacy, I will have more support in terms of needing a more flexible work schedule.  But I’m not sure how realistic that is.

I do plan on having conversations with people in my program and some of the chronically ill people I know to hopefully come up with a plan that is realistic and works well for me and my health needs.

For now, I’m going to keep pushing forward in my internships, and hopefully rest along the way so that I’m not totally burnt out by the time school starts again in September.