Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Disability and my career

The other day while chatting with a friend the following came up 'If your disability improves to the point that you are able to go back to your old career, would you take it up again?'
Good question.

I spent 4 years at Uni studying to be an Environmental Health Practitioner, then spent a few years working for a local authority. I enjoyed it and was good at it. It was rewarding, challenging and interesting. I carried on working as an EHP as my disability worsened, so even if I stay with some level of disability all my life, I could quite possibly reach a stage when returning to EH is an option.

However, I don't feel I am the same person I was then. Not that I am massively changed - I have the same humour, interests etc. I just feel like I've grown. And some of my perspectives have shifted. So much has happened in the past few years, including the death of my Father, Grandfather and 2 close family friends in a space of 6 months. If I have the option I want a career that leaves me free to spend time with family and friends while giving me enough money to live. The times I spent with Dad are some of my most precious memories, far more important than how much money he was able to spend on me.

Perhaps the most significant thing is that I started to draw my stickmen. Which I LOVE doing. If I can make a living using my cartoon skills, then I will, regardless of whether I am disabled or not. It is a career I can build here and now, rather than do things half heartedly thinking 'when I can get back to where I was 5 years ago'. I don't want to go back in time, I want to use my now.

And being an illustrator/author/cartoonist fits perfectly with my priorities - it will give me freedom to do spontaneous fun things with my younger siblings, to manage my time appropriately, but most importantly:

I love thinking up my cartoons. I love drawing them. I love sketching and re-sketching them until the expression is just what I want it to be. You can't beat the feeling of looking at a drawing that you've done, knowing that it 'works', that the emotion and energy you wanted to communicate is dancing on the page. Unless it is the feeling of watching someone else looking at the picture and responding to that emotion and energy :D I'd be an idiot not to take the opportunity to build this career!

So no. I have no present aim to return to Environmental Health. I will still use a lot of the skills I learnt as an EHP and it doesn't mean I never will do related work, it just means that my current career is that of an illustrator and I intend to make the most of it. And no, this is not a disability related decision, it is a decision based on my finding new skills and enjoying them :D

It is official:

I am Hannah Ensor. Author, illustrator and comic genius.

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