I have a chronic illness that will never, ever go away. I have fibromyalgia, which means that I hurt all the time, but some days are better than others. Some days I’m so exhausted that I can hardly function; other days I feel energized and like my old self with this distant pain that’s off in the distance. Regardless of how I’m feeling, I’m the best darn advocate for myself because no one else is going to advocate as well for my needs as I will. Yeah, today’s post is about dressing up and speaking up.
I am very fortunate to have had supportive supervisors and coworkers who understand and work with my limitations. They’ve approved of all of my accommodations and before my promotion (yes, they promoted me with a chronic illness) I worked 100% of the time from home.
This week, I found out that a colleague has not fallen into that category of wonderful and supportive. I suspected her to be a gossiper, but I’ve never worked with her directly before. She came on as I was part time in the office and then I worked from home and never interacted with her. However, when I met her, I had this averse gut reaction that I shouldn’t trust her. At any rate, since returning to the office, I now know her to be a malicious gossiper and learned that she had cornered one of my coworkers and attempted to get her to say that I wasn’t doing my work, likely so she could report that back to other people.
The conversation went something along the lines of, “gee, isn’t it awful that you have to do all of Rachel’s work because she’s never here?”
You know, because having a disability and receiving approved accommodations for them mean that I don’t work. Luckily, as I said before, I have great coworkers; this coworker set her straight in no uncertain terms. However, because this other coworker is a gossiper, I’m positive that she’s done with this other people who may not be coming quite so forward, and I’m so angry that it’s hard to really articulate exactly how angry I am.
So, today I am wearing a skirt and a nice shirt and a pearl bracelet and a pearl necklace, and I have a meeting with HR to file a formal complaint. I’m even contemplating wearing make-up, which I rarely do. What I always do is never let people disparage me or the work that I do because I have a disability. I even appropriately did a kickboxing workout this morning. Bring it.
When do you feel the need to speak up for yourself and how do you do it?