So lost and confused - struggling with these career issues for many years


So, I applied to work at the Goodwill, again... If I get something, this will be round 3 for me at the Goodwill but I'm not looking for full-time this time. I was laid off from an Oregon Goodwill due to Covid in April - I'm now applying at a Goodwill in NM.

Working at a Goodwill store isn't exactly a great career move for me but I don't know what else to do. This time it actually is a retail store - I have never actually worked at a Goodwill store before - I worked eCommerce last and a military food service gig that Goodwill had a contract for in 2008.

The fact is that I know that within the next few years I will be confined to working from home - no question. My hips are in bad shape but no one will replace them for at least 5 years and I'm in a lot of pain. I have a very strong suspicion that my shoulders are next in line. I am having the same issues with them that I was having with my hips 5 years ago. I have hypermobility - that's why my joints are giving out at 40. Add these chronic sources of pain to my CPTSD and anxiety disorder and I am marginally functional as it is.

And so, I have been trying to work out a from-home business writing career. Unfortunately, with all this pain and anxiety-related brain damage, I don't self-direct well. I can do an assignment independently but create an assignment, stick with that plan and follow through??? Gimme a few decades, alright - every turn - every key decision is like a brand new thesis being written over and over again - because I'm that anxiety-ridden. There's always a fatal flaw.

The truth is, I don't want to work from home. I feel like it's that cellar my grandmother always told me that children like me used to get locked in - isolating cold, just transforming what is left of me into a master of blood-thirsty rats in some dark, damp corner. Because people with cleft lips are freaks - that's life. This little piece of the puzzle is seriously counter-productive because I am pretty sure I don't have a choice in the long run.

I applied at the Goodwill with the knowledge that they hire people to work only a couple of days per week and knowing that it could save me from complete isolation. Also, I like the Goodwill's mission. It's better than selling booze.

I also applied at Department of Rehab again, hoping, hoping and hoping that I will somehow magically land the miracle caseworker, who can actually help me and not insult my every effort at helping myself.

I have been struggling with these career issues for many years - the struggle led me through graduate school and multiple career certificates.

I can't not work. I'd rather put a fork through my eyeball. My brain is far too over-active to not have someone else tell me what to do for a few hours each week.

My hope is I can work at the Goodwill a couple of days per week while I work on my business. Eventually, the store will likely be too much and I'll quit, hopefully after I have some writing work. Then, I'll fight like hell to find some way to see other human beings rather than rotting away alone in my cellar.

Is this a bad plan? Does anyone have any insight?

I do have therapy tomorrow in case anyone was wondering.
I'm not in the US unfortunately, but maybe someone else here might know?

Other than that: ask google, local self-help groups, your T, email Voc Rehab and ask them where ppl with disabilities can go to get employment counselling, email random places that might know...?


Thanks. When I worked with Voc Rehab last I had expressed a whole lot of confusion about what would be best for me and whatnot after I had finished school and I was met with the attitude that I needed to figure it out before they could help me. I guess it never occurred to me that there might be career counseling services for disabled people since Voc Rehab didn't seem to offer them. I will look into that. Thank you!
I hope you find a good disabilities career counsellor.

I've found it very helpful... they understand the confusion and frustration, the things you can't do, the things you can do and the fact that you don't want to sit at home doing nothing just cos you're disabled.

I dunno what it's like in the US but in some countries, companies even get funding if they employ someone with a disability.


Yes, there are tax incentives for companies that hire disabled workers - I know that is a real thing here. There may be more.

I am not convinced that my Voc Rehab experience went as ideally as it should have before I moved here and I am hopeful (though not necessarily optimistic) that if I am able to get involved with them here they will be a bit more helpful. I am a hard case and I get that but I am NOT unemployable.

I would just dearly love to get started on a track that I could stay on long-term and not feel utterly alone while doing it.

Thanks again.


I would just dearly love to get started on a track that I could stay on long-term and not feel utterly alone while doing it.
Strong second to @Sophy (in lockdown) idea of hiring a career counsellor. Even if they don’t specialize in people disabilities it would be someone you could be doing this process with, instead of being alone in it.

Alternatively, or as homework before meeting with either a career counsellor or Voc Rehab...

((hint: I need help finding a job that I’m qualified for, that I can physically do... it’s not just my recognized disabilities, but also degenerative joints, and need to not be isolated at home, or shut away out of sight from people, but actually work WITH other people. I have several degrees and certificates, but the only place I’ve found that will hire me with my limitations is Goodwill. There MUST be other options than minimum wage retail, but I need someone savvy enough to help me find those options, and to help me take advantage of them. My self confidence is shot, at this point.))

...Googling around online finds a lot of different worksheets & ideas to help collate your thoughts/feelings/qualifications. Those individual resources may not be enough to point you in the direction of a job/career you’d love...but they’d be VERY useful to anyone attempting to help you put a plan together. Just as an example?

If you need to? Make TWO lists with the above headings... the brutally honest one, AND the politically correct / publicly acceptable one :sneaky:

Couple cases in point?

- I’m not a fan of old people. Don’t get me wrong, I love individual old people, and absolutely delight in harassing old men smoking outside of cafes (no one better to get dialed into the community with, for either passing directions, or catching up on the goss), but I’m not a dementia & bedpans kind of chick. I’m a make someone laugh -or try to- as their leg is twisted around 7 times falling off their motorbike (Are you ALWAYS this much of an overachiever? Or did you just want all the hot docs drooling over you? Damn, girl!), or their guts are spilled out over the sidewalk, or their kid has just coded, or their parents are freaking the f*ck out kind of girl. In a crisis, I am calm/cool/collected, and freaking good fairy of mischief & joy. I like TRAUMA. That’s my niche. That’s where I thrive. During my (domestic violence) divorce? There was a group who would PAY to send me for a 90 day cert. as a CNA, aaaaand provide childcare/transportation/etc. But they wouldn’t pay for a 90 day EMT cert. Exact same cost. (Same school). Exact same prospects (minimum wage bullshit job with terrible hours). So did I take them up on their offer? Nope! Because I’d have been eating my gun inside of a month being a CNA working in an old folks home. I know myself well enough to know that.

- I have a girlfriend who spent several years in Uganda, and several more years doing aid work in Caribbean and Latin American islands/tiny isolated communities where 7yos walk around wih AK47s. She also happens to be a white chick with multiple degrees from Ivy League universities, and a high falootin’ employment resume. She could get a job with ANY of the top tier NGOs in the world, and has. So when she relocated to Chicago to help her husband’s parents with a couple year health crisis? She wanted to help underprivileged kids. And was sent by every little company she applied for to the GoldCoast. To help very privileged white kids with their Ivy League applications. :banghead: Upon arguing it, she was told she’d never be accepted by the black communities, and they needed her skills elsewhere, and that the most use she could be was to help them fundraise amongst Chicago’s wealthiest families. So she quit on the spot and went to the housekeeping departments of the big hotels in the loop and put the word out thay she was tutoring, for free, and spoke XYZ languages. Within a few months she had hundreds of kids, and dozens of volunteers, and was a federally funded non-profit. All because, yep! She wanted to tutor kids, but HER kind of kids? Weren’t the politically correct “every child matters”, but the immigrants both legal & illegal, and gangbangers little brothers & sisters, that she could bully & batt her eyelashes at to provide armed escort from the bus to the center.

The group *I* went to thought battered wives “needed” a nurturing environment, with low stress, amongst a population that wouldn’t scare me, changing sheets, and feeding people by hand, and doing the hokey pokey amongst people who were oh so grateful to have me there. Not being screamed at, with blood & guts & bad outcomes. Shrug. They were wrong.

The groups my friend went to? Thought with her background that she was an invaluable resource for fundraising, and networking, and since tutoring is tutoring / every child DOES matter, that she should be happy as a clam anywhere, but over the moon at what they were offering her. Nope. They we’re not only wrong, but they ALSO lost out on a major fundraising opportunity because she’d have done the introductions, and galas, and schmoozing for cash at night... if they’d let her work her day job where she wanted to. .

^^^Both of those are direct results of knowing your own values & goals. But neither are politically correct, or socially acceptable.


Thank you, Friday. Good stuff.

About a year and a half ago, when I left rural central Oregon, my therapist told me to go find a job in Portland - a professional job. She was against me working at the Goodwill and assured me that I was ready for full-time professional work. I ignored her because I wanted to make the move ASAP and felt like Goodwill was a sure bet.

Less than 6 months later, I tore both of my hip labrums (labri? labrum?) and though I had a full-time job at the Goodwill, my VR counselor was vocal about her concern that I may not be capable of working at all.

In retrospect, that woman was 100% unhelpful all the way around, so...

My pain level was consistently hovering around a 7 at that point and spiking above that. I made a conscious choice to stop looking for work away from the Goodwill because I was a wreck. Now, it's more of a consistent 3 or 4 but it was more of a 2-3 before the move.

I think I do have a pretty good handle on my career possibilities based on a class I took in college, college mentors and further research after the fact. What I have lacked is just what you noted: confidence. A 4.0 in grad school and I still feel like an imposter most of the time but my family is blue collar and I thought I was going to lay tile for a living like my dad and grandfather. I'm still intimidated by college-educated professionals. I haven't been around many.

For me, the work goal is to help, far enough away from the fire (and annoying people shit) that I can actually do something helpful which has always dialed back to nonprofit work in development or administration.

I have an appointment with Goodwill Job Services today, which has nothing to do with working for them but with looking for work on the outside. I don't know how much they offer in terms of career counseling but I am feeling it out to see if I feel like they have anything I need and will ask for guidance on other organizations that might be able to help. I am still waiting to hear from NM Voc Rehab and I will do some more poking around to look for career counseling, elsewhere. I might even check in at my old universities and see if there is anything I can find there.

You are right, I should be able to find something better than retail. It's kind of bullshit that I keep stranding myself at jobs that aren't helping me to move forward. This physical downhill slide I am on is progressive, after all. Four years from now, I might NEED to work from home but I am there, yet. And Goodwill is not the only employer bound by the ADA - I just think that because I spent too long in rural nowhere having my devil possession and crazy discussed at work.

The truth is, I haven't been chronically denied employment outside of the Goodwill safety zone. I have barely even looked - there's just too much possibility of rejection. Which is a great argument for why pitching writing services full-time is not something I am emotionally ready for. ?

Thanks again. I feel a lot better having discussed some of this and I slept a whole lot better last night, too.


I haven't read this whole thread but check out A nonprofit that hires people with ALL kinds of disabilities for all kinds of positions They have 16 offices in the U.S.

Good luck!!