Using Your Talents and Skills Is the Best Medicine

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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“… but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.” — Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), “Taken

Every time I watch the movie “Taken” and this scene comes up, I’m all in. In it, the Neeson character’s daughter has been kidnapped, and anyone with a daughter can empathize with him as he seeks her safety.

Sometimes I feel that way when my daughter goes to work. As her father, I can’t help but worry. But I taught her right, and she’s a smart young lady, so I play my emotions close to my vest. I don’t want her to know I worry — she’d clown me to no end. I taught her and her brother well!

Like me, I think my kids often forget I have pulmonary sarcoidosis. They’re used to seeing me on the go. My past employment consisted of physical jobs that entailed running around with video cameras, pulling cables under floors, working late nights, and traveling to various locations.

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When I got laid off, I decided to do the freelance thing. Trying to hustle jobs was a job in itself. Between traveling, shooting, editing, and trying to get paid for the work, it’s a wonder I stayed focused. But I trusted my abilities to take care of my family.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my kids about jobs. I told them about some of my adventures working with the Pennsylvania Lottery for one of the local advertising agencies in Philadelphia. They asked how I managed to get the job, and I said it was a combination of my résumé and chemistry with the folks I met during the interview process.

I also let them know that every résumé I’ve ever written for someone has always gotten them the job. After about an hour, here come my kids, with résumés in hand!

At first, I was apprehensive to offer suggestions or rework what they had. I suspected my offer of help would stress me out more than it would help them, but I did it anyway. One of my rules is to never stand in the way of someone trying to better themselves, no matter the nonsense they put you through.

Well, I finished helping my two clowns, and I shared some cover letter ideas and interview tips with them. In doing so, I ran across my own résumé. I’d been laid off six months before I had the first of three spontaneous pneumothoraces, which happens when air accumulates in the space between the lungs and the chest cavity. As a result, I’d been feverishly looking for a new opportunity.

I remember reworking my résumé while recuperating at Temple Health’s Lung Center. All I could think about was getting back to work to pay my mortgage and other bills and provide for my family. It didn’t work out like that, but I believe that when God has a plan for you, just hold on for the ride.

After showing my kids their reworked résumés, I sat there looking at mine. I saw all of the skills I had acquired over 30-plus years. I thought about how much I wanted to get back in the game, but the fear of how much sarcoidosis could affect my performance left me questioning my abilities. I kept feeling like this condition would be the fat lady singing to end my career. Thirty-plus years would be lost to an invisible predator. I can’t go out like that.

I began reworking my résumé again, taking a closer look at my experiences and LinkedIn profile. I must admit, at least to myself, that I have some serious skills.

“… skills I have acquired over a very long career.”

Skills that I can’t waste on a chronic illness. The illness may be with me from now on, but my skills will always be mine. I’d say the playing field is slightly leveled — in whose favor, you decide!

My skills have taken me on a long journey, and I can’t abandon them now. They’ve allowed me to buy a house, raise a family, travel, and enjoy life within the means I could afford. Every day is a hit or miss for me, and I have more hits than misses.

Although I’m partly disabled, I’m still capable of doing what I love to do. I started sending out résumés for remote job opportunities to see if anyone would be willing to take a chance on me. If I don’t get any responses, I’ll continue to take chances on myself. The best part is I get a chance to show folks what I’ve accomplished and what I’m capable of doing.

Do you see me now?

I may not be the fit you’re looking for, and that’s cool, but at least I got your attention. My skills show you I’m still in the game. I’m more than sarcoidosis. I still have skills, and I’m not afraid to prove it.


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

Comments

Cindy Matthews avatar

Cindy Matthews

Charlton, thank you for sharing your story.
After 21 years of remission, I’m in the midst of a major, debilitating pulmonary sarcoidosis flare. I feel as though I’ve lost all professional credibility in my 32+ year career. (I feel that way, my team denies this). A wonderful career, but not yet long enough to retire. I’ve been stressing on how I can eek out a few more years of time, while unable to perform my traditional hydrologist duties, and not let my employer and team down.

Thank you for the inspiration to rethink my skills, and how I can be what I consider a useful member of my team again. I can do this! Warrior On! Thank you.
Cindy

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