Now, when I become discouraged – frustrated – or ready to throw a temper tantrum because things just aren’t going as planned, I quickly switch my mind onto Joni’s “memory lane.” I look back on all the challenges, trials and tribulations I’ve been through up to this point.
Which is right here, right now sharing my story with you. I always feel personal stories let others realize they are not alone. Yes, our stories will be different, but we all have them.
I hope sharing my story with you will help in some way; whether you can relate too it or pull some kind of encouragement or inspiration out of it.
With that being said, here I go…kind of letting it all hang out. 🙂
Note: My story is fairly long, so these posts will be continued.
My journey began at the ripe age of 16 when I was diagnosed with leukopenia, a white blood cell disorder. I have 1/3 of the white blood cells that the average person has, which left me sick and tired all the time.
I couldn’t fight off infection very well, whether a cold, sore throat or anything else. Being in high school, I felt that I had missed quite a bit.
For example, when I would go to our weekly football games, by half time, my friends would take me out to the car where I slept through the second half. There would be blankets and pillows thrown in the back seat just for me.
Although this honestly was great that my friends would go as far as to get me to the game, even for a short time, it really sucked.
In my twenties, I started to battle anxiety and panic attacks. I felt terrible physically, but now… emotionally as well.
It had gotten so bad that I couldn’t go to restaurants, movie theaters or grocery stores without bolting or finding the nearest door to get out. Driving was also getting difficult, and any sort of group corporate meeting was simply unbearable.
I was able to work, though I missed quite a bit. Some of my jobs included being a bank teller, waitress, accounting assistant and a retail store manager.
Most all of the occupations were dealing with people which doesn’t jive real well with panic attacks. I was truly a basket case most of the time.
I ultimately landed a great job as an administrative assistant in a steel plant, which I did for about three years until my boss decided I wasn’t giving him what he truly wanted….and it wasn’t doing my job well. (yea, he was a real charmer…) This is a story all in itself!
Well, since I wasn’t giving in, the jerk gave me the choice of being fired or to become a member of the Operators Union- working with all the guys running heavy equipment. Mind you…I was 5’2-1/2, 125lbs. Out of spite and hatred for what he was doing to me, I took him up on his offer.
I’m not a quitter, but very independent. I had 90 days to either make it or not, and I knew I was taking a big chance. I figured I’d make it through the 90 day probation period just so he could can me was what I thought. It didn’t matter, I’d take my chances.
The roughest part was I was THE only woman…the first woman ever on that job. That went over like a lead balloon! The guys didn’t want me there either…it was strictly all men and no room for a girl.
They made it very, very difficult for me. You couldn’t imagine the things they pulled, trying to get me to cry, punch somebody or walk off the job site.
I started out as a laborer and eventually operated a 35 ton dump truck. Talk about panic attacks. As you can see from the picture, it was a BIG truck!
I learned everything I could and didn’t make excuses for not doing a job just because I was a girl…no, I sucked it up and it almost killed me I think.
I had to work at least 5x’s harder than any guy there just to keep up.
Just about every night after my shift, I’d cry like a baby all the way home. But after taking so much crap, those tears turned into shear determination.
I worked my tail off. After being emotionally and physically put through the ringer, I’m here to say I won the respect of every man on that job site. (yet another long story!)
When I left 3 years later, I was one of the best drivers there. But, the size of the truck was beating me up- driving it day after day, so I knew it was time to go.
Oh and by the way, the guys wouldn’t let the boss fire me and, it wasn’t much after that he was fired himself…what goes around comes around…
Well, I’ve taken up enough of your time, so we’ll continue the saga a little later…
Joni Up Close next post: Trials and Tribulations – Life Is Full of Challenges