Today is officially 3 years since I left the office of what was a 20-year career in the public service, and was to be the beginning of what is now Ainslee Hooper Consulting. Although when I left the office, I didn’t know I’d be where I am today, I just knew that chapter of my life had to be finished so a new chapter could begin. Some of you may already know this story, and some of you may not.
During my time in the public service, I studied to become an Anthropologist. This was a happy accident, although the circumstances might not seem as such. Due to health issues I was experiencing, I had to have time off work and was hospitalised. This hospitalisation, unfortunately, led to complications unrelated to the initial reason, and as a result, I was in the hospital on and off for 12 months. It was during this time in hospital that I was scared that my brain was going to deteriorate due to strict bed rest and there is only so much daytime television you can watch without losing a sense of reality, so I decided to study something. I had always found philosophy fascinating so I decided to immerse myself in that as part of a Bachelor of Arts. Then came needing to make up credit points for the degree. I read the description of disciplines and found the Anthropology ASS101 pretty cool so I figured I’d give that a go. I had always loved watching documentaries about other cultures, so it seemed like a good choice. I wasn’t wrong. The first class of the first unit had me hook, line and sinker. In my mid-20s, I had finally found my calling. I knew I wanted to be an Anthropologist.
Further into the degree, we were studying Poverty and Development and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my degree. I wanted to use it to help people understand other people so problems that are a result of poor communication can be solved and the problems underpinning the poor communication can be addressed. Still, I didn’t know what the future had in store for me. After this hospitalisation, I continued studying to complete my degree while working in the public service. A few years later I ended up back in the hospital due to the same health issues I ended up with from the previous hospital stay, and I was informed that I needed to have supports at home.
Through these life changes, I was provided an insight into a system that I could see many gaps existing within. Gaps I knew didn’t have to be there but were the result of poor communication and lack of understanding, and this lack of understanding exists both within and outside of the disability sector. When I look back at things now, all of the big events in my life have coalesced to create the business I have now and yet I didn’t know when these things were happening. Between seeing these gaps and starting my business, I had returned to the public service with this desire to help, but not being sure where to do this. I could find no jobs to suit my accessibility needs, so it was always just in the back of my mind.
Eventually, things transpired in the public service which resulted in me taking some much-needed time away for mental health reasons, and it was during this break that I had the opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate my life. Knowing I needed to take care of my mental health, I made the decision to start my business so I could finally help address the issues that I was seeing. It’s been 2 years this year since I started my business and although there were times, in the beginning, I questioned if I was making the right choice of being my own boss, this past year has cemented for me that I have absolutely made the right decision. I have been working with amazing clients to bring an understanding of disability in a variety of ways as each business’s needs are unique, as can be the experience of disability. I know the saying “One door closes and another door opens” is cheesy as hell, but it really is true.