How do we measure success?  

By the amount of hours worked? By how much were paid? By the quality of the things we own? Are we successful if we do well in this regard, but are terribly unhappy with ourselves on the inside?

Is success measured by where we went to college? Is it measured by the amount of promotions we get in our careers? Is it measured by how much money we’re able to bring in for the companies we work at? For so many people, this seems to determine their self worth, even though self worth perhaps should more be judged by how we treat others.

And what if we’re someone who doesn’t necessarily have these things to use as a measuring stick? Then what? In a society that so often judges people on the type of job they have, how much money they make, and the clothes they wear, how do people with disabilities who may not necessarily have such advantages, fit it?

People with disabilities, no matter whether they work, or what positions they hold in companies, often are great managers. Why? Because we manage personal care attendants. We manage getting ourselves where we have to go when we don’t drive. We have to completely manage, on our own, getting necessary accommodations when we go onto college or the workforce. We have to manage finding different ways of doing things when we’re unable to. Metaphorically, you can throw us into the deep end of the pool, and more likely than not, will be able to swim because we’ve always had to, since we’ve so rarely known anything other than deep water.

I’ve been dropped in the deep end of the pool, and I swam

My parents own a computer networking firm that I have worked at for the last six years, ever since I’ve graduated college. I consider myself lucky to have a job, although sometimes I wonder what people think when I tell people that I work for them. That I can’t get a job on my own? Maybe, and of course that’s not what I want people to think, and it’s not what I believe, but if other people do so what?

As a person with a disability, I sometimes feel the need to seem successful, so as, I guess, not to give disability a bad name. But I don’t need to define success by my job. I’ve done a million other things that I could define my success by, things that have given me skills of independence and self reliance, things that might be even more interesting than the average Joe with the great job has done. I’ve been dropped in the deep end of the pool, and I swam. I feel successful when I have written something that I feel is written well. That’s my story. Not the four promotions I’ve gotten, or the three new job offers that have come my way in the years since I graduated from college.

I swam.

Now, I think the things that I’ve describe would look very good to an employer, but if they don’t It’s OK. Give the job to the most qualified candidate. I know what I’ve accomplished, and that has to be satisfying enough for me. My success is that I am surviving, and sitting here writing this, and you dear reader, are reading it. I refuse to be told any different.

Molly Wiesman is a Chicago based blogger, actress, and public speaker. You can find her on Twitter @MollyWiesman, FacebookLinkedIn & Blog