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New Horizons Ahead:  Reflection of the Past Year As I Turn 31

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This week is my birthday week – I turn 31 on Saturday.  So much has changed since my last birthday that I decided to do a personal post this week to share the major transitions I have undergone, and will embark on very soon.

What the Past Year Has Meant to Me

When I reflect on the past year of my life and entering a new decade (the dirty 30s), I am taken aback at all the glorious people, places, and experiences I have encountered.  I never could have imagined any of these moments occurring, especially during such a trying time in my life as I dealt with the passing of my beloved Grandmother.  

I joke to myself that God knows that I am not the kind of person to be idle; for me, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.  This year, I have been given opportunities to use my mind and voice in ways that has propelled my advocacy into new heights.  These projects, meetings, and now new job, has kept me busy, which is what I needed during this time of transition.  This transitional period, handling my Grandmother’s earthly transition and mapping out my life transition, has been a tremendous growth space for me.  Every single moment, the small and large, is humbling and I take nothing for granted.  In the middle of heartache, I have been blessed beyond anything I could do for myself, and it is not lost on me that this time is for a purpose.  

And most importantly, I know that this is just the beginning; I have just scratched the surface of what is yet to come for me.  

New Job – WID’s National CareerACCESS Project Manager

As I mentioned, I got a new job, a position I am elated to embark on this fall.  I am the new National CareerACCESS Project Manager for the World Institute on Disability (WID).  This position will allow me to spearhead the CareerACCESS program, which is a pilot program set to be launched in five states.  This program focuses on disabled young adults who desire to enter the workforce while receiving SSI (disability benefits), and provide them with the supports and tools needed to be independent in their efforts and still retain their benefits.  

What I really love about the CareerACCESS program is that I wished it was around when I graduated high school and entered college.  Assisting disabled young adults during the transition from teen years to adulthood is so important, and we need more nationwide programs like this providing guidance and supports.  Also, this predicament has been my whole young adult experience – maneuvering through a system that does little to help us achieve our employment goals and forces us to go through unnecessary hurdles.  To bring together my personal experience and professional knowledge into a role has been a dream of mine, and now I feel that it has come true with this position at WID.  

Another reason I like this job?  I get to telework for the time being, and I can move to DC next year.  This gives me the ability to plan my move without rushing, which is what I had wanted for whatever job I decided to accept.  

And the icing on the cake?  I can finally get off SSI.  I will have healthcare benefits, which is what I wanted if I was to take any job.  Being off SSI means that I can live the way I want; I can adult the way I have envisioned for so long.  That kind of freedom I am eager to bask in once I start working this fall, and not having to make a dollar out of 15 cents (which I have learned how to do since living alone after Grandmother’s death).  When I accepted the position, it felt as if a huge weight has been lifted, and that I could finally breathe.  It is hard to explain that feeling, but it was the most mental and emotional relief I have had in a long time.  

What Does the New Job Mean for RYV?  

The new job means that I can do more freelance work, which includes conducting workshops/presentations, writing articles, and consulting.  Over the next few months, I plan to restructure the consulting aspects of RYV! to include these things, especially now that I have an idea of how I want to use my voice and experiences as an advocate.  What I thought I wanted to do three years ago has vastly changed, so an update is definitely needed.  

I have always known that once I got a full-time position, that I would branch out and do more freelance work.  As a Millennial who survived the recession, I know that it is important to have multiple avenues of income coming in, and to strategize what those incomes mean to me as I strive to reach the end goal.  

RYV! will still be here – it is not going anywhere.  The new job will allow me to build more into it financially, which was something I did not have the means to do before.  RYV!, my children’s book, and other projects will remain in motion, and I can take them to the levels that I know they are capable of reaching.  

Final Thoughts

Year 30 of my life has been an amazing journey, full of a lot of unexpectedness that have all worked out for my betterment.  New friends, new job, new goals and opportunities… what else could a girl ask for?  

If 30 was this good, I can only imagine how 31 will be.  Do know that I am ready for what is in store.
~ Vilissa

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of Pixabay.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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