I want to clarify what I mean by functionality.
Functionality is a scale, not two boxes of “functional” and “non-functional”. For example, a standard measurement of functioning in Western psychotherapy is the GAF (Global Assessment of Functioning) scale, Axis V in the DSM-IV-TR, and it focuses on the following determiners:
It is a blend of how well you function in your society and how much pain/distress you experience.
Some people can’t function in their society; that’s what disability benefits are intended for (however poorly implemented they may be). Sometimes the causes of the lower functionality are not fully treatable, and the person will never be able to function “normally” in their society. And that’s okay.
When I talk about seeking and improving functionality, I mean your optimal level and mode of functioning. It may look very different from Joe College Student or Jill Businesswoman – their optimal functionality is in a different place than yours.
It’s key, I think, to find a place in the world where you can survive, thrive, and minimize pain/distress for yourself. I have a draconic friend who would be terribly dysfunctional in an office job or in customer service – but she is brilliant when working outdoors and with animals, so she has structured her career around that. People expect someone in her occupation to be eccentric, not socially normative, which is an added bonus. Her personality quirks, her intensely other-than-human energy, and her experiences of being animalistic are actually strengths in her job, where in a more sedate, people-oriented job they’d be impairments.
Another example is Raven Kaldera who, by all accounts, would not be able to hold down a “normal” job or be content in an urban environment thanks to shamanic obligations, mental health, and personal preferences. So he lives on a spiritual commune on a farm in the middle of nowhere, writing books and serving gods and spirits in his way. He has found a niche wherein he can function as optimally as possible. His particular psychological and spiritual makeup makes him particularly suitable for that niche, where a “normal” person would likely have a difficult time.
Know your limits. If you’re a high-anxiety introvert, avoid working in customer service if at all possible. If you go stir-crazy in an office, seek an outdoor job instead. It’s not always possible to find a job that suits your needs and limitations, particularly in this economy, but do research the possibilities. Make a list. You might be surprised at some of the options.
If your particular mental makeup prevents you from being able to hold down a job – then accept that, make some sort of peace with it. I know a few people who are on disability who find ways to feel productive and like they’re contributing in some way to their household or their community, whether it be through art, writing, or volunteering.
This goes beyond occupation and what you’re doing with your life, too – functionality is not just physical or environmental. For example, I’m going to eventually talk more in-depth about energetic health and functioning. Often as otherkin we have some energetic quirks and needs that have to be cared for and adapted to in order to optimally function on this plane.
What would your optimal functionality look like? What do you want that is possible in this world? What do you need in order to be content? What adds to your pain/distress, and what detracts from it? What strengths do you have?
For those of you who have managed to carve or find a place where you fit, how did you manage that? What does it look and feel like?