DPSN Team Favourites: My Common is Unique (Anna)

DPSN is back online and we thought we’d kick off February with a few of our favourite blogs of all time.

As this year starts and not long after Chinese New Year – the year of the Rooster – I am considering my professional career and where I am going.  This blog about My common work life being unique for others is a timely reminder that I know the rhyme and reason I do things the way I need to. Taking my time, or giving my time, or allowing my time is all important ways to manage my own success in life and career.  My wish for 2017 – Remember your rhythm, know your own unique pattern and live a full life. – Anna

I live in a society where having a significant or obvious physical, sensory or intellectual disability and paid employment is something that is often seen as admirable or brave. However, for me, it is just what I do.

uniqueworkBeing told that I have inspired people because I have a job (or two) is surprising. It’s surprising because I haven’t set out to inspire anyone. I’m simply making my way in this life.

New Zealand’s employment rates are reasonable, based on these statistics from Stats NZ


In New Zealand one in four people identify as living with a disability. According to the 2013 Disability Survey, only “half of all disabled adults were in the labour force (either employed, or unemployed and looking for work) compared with three-quarters of non-disabled adults.”

I respect that not everyone can work. In fact, generally speaking, I can only manage 35 hours each week. I wonder, just because I do work, how that is inspiring or unique.  It seems rather common actually, when you look at the facts and figures.

As part of one of my roles I am regularly invited to speak at large and small university lectures. Often afterwards students – and sometimes staff – will comment that I am so brave (they could never say it in front of others).

Ironically, I used to say the same thing to other people when I was younger.

So this got me thinking that, perhaps this is less about perceived ability and more about each individual’s perspective on what they think is achievable for them. In addition, if they had a disability, they perceive that it would be so significantly challenging, that taking on work as well would be ‘inspiring’.

Therefore, your perspective is valid, yet not always an accurate theory of reality. Just as my perspective that you living without a disability would surely mean you have no limitations is, of course, not accurate, either!

My common is your unique, and your common is my unique! How different are we? And yet we’re so alike!

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