The little ways migraine can hold you up

My sister has one of those jobs that makes you believe in the inherent goodness of people.  J. works for the Athens Area Homeless Shelter’s Rapid Rehousing Program. In short, she helps clients find and maintain living situations as they get back on their feet; they’re transitioning away from homelessness and into sustainable, self-supported lifestyles. J. works with them to locate safe apartments, pay rent, and keep up with their responsibilities. She’s pretty great.

This past November, the shelter did its huge yearly fundraiser, a gala called The Harvest for the Homeless. Tons of local businesses donated gift cards, silent auction items, and more.  As you can imagine, there were lots of Athens leaders at this get-together.  I ran into a casual friend of mine, someone who’s reached out to me before about joining different business groups in town. This time, it sounded more up my alley (though I steer away from traditional networking groups, preferring instead a more natural and non-prescribed way to refer customers and friends to other businesses).

M. started telling me about this organization, and how he had been meaning to reach out to me.  I hadn’t closed off the option until he mentioned the price (I don’t have the budget or interest to pay for that kind of thing) and the attendance rules: you have to make x meetings a month in addition to making your regular dues payments, and if you miss a certain number of meetings you’re out.

“M., that sounds like an interesting group of people and I’m sure I’d meet some folks I wouldn’t encounter otherwise. But the fees are too high, and the attendance rule is a no-go for me.” M. looked at me quizzically, beginning to explain that I could indeed miss a certain number of meetings per year.  “Well, this is probably more information that you are interested in knowing, but I deal with chronic illness, and I have to minimize the number of commitments I make.  Signing up for something with relatively rigid attendance rules is just not an option for me.”  M. started to respond, but we were interrupted (which happens a lot at big parties where you know tons of folks!).

That short interaction got me thinking about all the things I tend to say no to before I can really try them out.  While I choose to take some health-related risks when it comes to Avid Bookshop professional development and leisure travel, I tend to say no to a lot of opportunities in order to protect my health. Drive to Atlanta for my friends’ sure-to-be-fun-for-everyone-except-maybe-me dance party? A polite no: I wouldn’t want to get a migraine in the middle of a party and be a good hour and a half from home.  Commit to a networking group that will kick me out if I miss a certain number of meetings? Nope!

Perhaps if the cost were greater, if I were missing out on more things due to my health problems, I would reevaluate. But my friends are understanding and are fine waiting to hang out with me one-on-one when I’m in a good spell, and most businesses I do network with naturally don’t have attendance rules.  For now, it is feasible for me to say no to many things when I weigh the positives with the potential migraine-related negatives.

How about you? What are some small ways that having migraine disease might hold you back from opportunities, whether or not you find those opportunities important?

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