Friday, January 29, 2010

The Halo effect

It's been three weeks since that remarkable interview at the independent living center where I hoped for a case management job. During the interview I felt that interviewer and had truly connected. The flow of our conversation was both relaxed and tinged with the excitement of this job being such a good fit with my social service experience. We talked about the second interview where I would meet the director of the organization. I asked as I was leaving whether I should call in several weeks 'just to see where we are" in terms of scheduling a second interview.

"No," my interviewer said, "we'll call you."

That call never came. So I didn't even make it to the second interview.

I can't help but ask myself--is it something I said? Is it my resume? Am I too old? Did I come on too strong or not strong enough?


We had such as vibrant conversation, I thought. At one point during our exchange, my interviewer said, "It's such a pleasure to meet someone and not have to explain the meaning of the Independent Living Philosophy."

"I am the Independent Living Philosophy," I said and we laughed. From the beginning my interviewer said repeatedly how much she admired the things I had done. She wanted to know all about my work as a Writing Coach, a business I had started that is commensurate to my interests (and my degree) and a way to bring in some extra money as I look for a job While the interview flowed easily, a little alarm went off when she started admiring me aloud and veering away from my qualifications for the specific job.

She showered me with praise. I'll admit it felt good. but somehow it also created some distance between us. She put me on some kind of pedestal because I wasn't looking for assistance like the usual client with a disability. I was actually putting myself out there for a job, like anyone would do.

It would be easy to find fault with my interviewer. Too easy. I liked her intelligence, her frankness. She would have made a great boss. When someone sees me as a functional independent person, I tell them stories, give them work-related examples, evidence of that functionality. Is that too much information?

Maybe. If it is, I feel like it shouldn't be.

As we were talking I felt a halo appear above my head. I saw it there as clear as the bullet points on my resume. Did she create the halo or did I conjure it for myself ?Don't tell me how fantastic I am, I wanted to say to her. Give me a job. Halos are lovely because they make everything seem golden. Halo's don't help pay the bills.

The other tactic of Not giving information about my accomplishments feels like it dumbs me down, plays into a streotypical a narrow image of disability which hardly feels appropriate.

The answer must be to find the balance between "Disability fabulousness" and the reality of my day to day life as a person, a woman, a mother, a writer, a social service professional with a disability.

It's slightly ironic considering that by definition, with my cp, I have no balance. Literally. The crutches are there to keep me from falling down. My crutches create the balance I need to live my life from day to day. Still it felt good to put myself out there. To know that I'm actively looking for a job and not sitting on my ass waiting for something to happen.Some friends are saying that I should call my interviewer back anyway, just to check in. Jog her memory. Keep it casual. All I can say to that is: maybe.

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