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Positivity in Retail

Working in retail is brutal. Employees are tasked with not only providing amazing customer service but also do various tasks while doing so. It’s no wonder that many employees always look angry, upset, or depressed.

I, however, have realized that if you think and act with a positive attitude, everything seems to go a lot smoother. For the first couple years of working retail, I had always let the mean customers, coworkers, and everything outside work get to me. I no longer am able to work in retail because of my health issues, but I wanted to share the experiences that I had in the five to six years I spent in retail. Since I had a lot of physical pains that I experienced, that felt worse than many others, many days working in the backroom at SEARS dragged on. The only thing that got me through it was the reminder that I would get paid after all of my hard work.

When I began working at ROSS as a fitting room clerk, I associated with customers a lot more than I did previously. At first, I was very shy and timid. While I worked, I realized that when I put on a smile every day the customers smiled back. I interacted with them constantly. When I gave them a “have a nice day/night” after they were finished trying on clothes, I saw their eyes light up. When they approached with a sad or depressed expression I could see it change to a lighter, happier tone once they left.

During the dull, dragging days and nights where there were hardly any customers, I kept my mind and body busy. My mind was always on stories or my future as a writer. To ignore my physical pains, I paced around the podium at my station, danced with the music playing on the loudspeakers, and when there were clothes on my rack I went off a few clothes at a time to put them back. I also spent time going down aisles making sure everything was neat and tidy.

Many employees complain about the amount of work to do in retail jobs like I have had. In my experience, time usually goes faster when you’re busy. Positivity is key when working in retail, especially when you have disabilities like mine. It makes the managers, and everyone else important overlooks what you cannot do and commend you for what you can do.

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Overcoming Challenges

As a child, I struggled throughout school with undiagnosed learning disabilities. Unfortunately, my parents did not know how to get me tested or even knew that I had something wrong. In school, I was seen as lazy or even stupid in some classes because of how much I struggled. Since I had always loved reading and writing, I was able to figure out ways around my dyslexia. When I read things that were somewhat difficult, I used two rulers to section off sentence by sentence so I could concentrate on one line at a time. For editing my writing, I printed it all out and physically marked up the papers and wrote arrows for parts that needed to be said earlier or later. However, math was a different story. Since I had no interest in the subject, my unknown disability really hindered my abilities. In order to get through my classes, I eventually began to go over my problems over and over to make sure that I got the numbers and symbols correct before handing in any homework.

Once I began going to my local Community College, I realized just how badly I needed to get tested. I started falling behind in my classes because I could not concentrate enough to read the texts quickly enough. I even attempted to have a job in retail but realized I was not mentally able to handle the cash register and was let go.

After I was finally (first) diagnosed at the age of 22, I was able to get the help I needed. I was able to get untimed tests, and record lectures so I could concentrate on what was going on in the classroom instead of writing note after note. I finally was able to graduate with an Associates in General Studies in 2012. Once I graduated, I figured out what kinds of retail jobs I was able to apply to. Retail chains that had many different departments were able to hire individuals, like me, who did not have to learn to use the register.

Fast forward to the year 2015, retail was the only job I was able to obtain but it was taking a toll on my worsening conditions. I decided to go for the Freelance Writing career diploma from Penn Foster. The monthly payment for tuition was cheap and I got free textbooks out of the deal. After achieving an A in the entire program and the certificate I realized I needed a lot more to get my freelance career off the ground. On a whim, I applied to West Chester University, which was within distance to commute from my home. For two years I enjoyed going to this school but at the same time the stress of commuting, multiple classes, and trying to juggle what little finances I had taken its toll. The program was fine, but in the end, I needed more flexibility. Just a week and a half ago I finished my final semester before transferring to Southern New Hampshire University where I will be majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in Communications.

Along the way, I have met wonderful friends who help me through the process of developing my skills along with professors who helped me realize what kind of goals I wanted to set for myself. I learned that when I need to read books for class that I should try to listen to the audiobook version along with reading in order to comprehend the material. For research, my Professor taught me to write the material I read in my own words as I read it so that I can easily comprehend it better later, which ultimately helps me create the content I need for the paper itself.

I don’t want to claim to be part of the “super-crip” (a term I only just learned through my last research paper which means someone who has a disability and has “overcome” in some way to seem “normal”), but I do believe these accomplishments can be seen as positive and uplifting. There are times where I believe that I can’t amount to anything. Either from others’ words or my own anxious thoughts. The thing about that is that even if times seem dire, one must never give up hope. Never stop fighting and stay strong. One of my favorite fandoms, Supernatural, taught me that and I will forever keep that in my heart.