Me, my disability & my identity

I’m Elin, a 19-year-old beauty and fashion enthusiast, a person who loves music and going to concerts, a girl who lives in the countryside and loves going for walks, a student who has an aptitude for writing and aspires to pursue a career in the journalism/social media industry. I just happen to live with a disability and this is often the first thing people see, what people normally judge me for and it got me thinking, how much of a role does my disability play in terms of my identity and who I am?

A photo of Elin wearing a denim jacket, white t-shirt and black skinny jeans. There are trees and flowers in the background

I’m not often recognised for all the things i listed above, many recognise me as the girl who walks around with a long cane, the girl who wears glasses, the girl who can’t see.

I’ve been thinking recently about why this is, why does my disability have to be the thing that defines me in so many people’s eyes? When I’ve met some new people in the past, they’ve asked me questions such as; “So, how long have you been visually impaired?”, “Have you been visually impaired since birth?”, “How much can you actually see?”, “Do you always use a long cane?”. I understand that people are curious and are wanting to learn and I don’t have a problem with that, I’m always happy to answer any questions people might have, within reason of course. But, I was wondering, why is my disability often the most common topic within a conversation? Why do people not ask about me, who I am, what my hobbies are? My life is so much more than my disability and I don’t think that it’s something that everyone realises.

My disability is a part of me, it has been since my parents realised I couldn’t see in the dark when I was three years old and from that point, I’ve had a number of visits to the hospital, hundreds of tests to see how Retinitis Pigmentosa affects the way I see the world and that registration at the age of twelve which labelled me blind.

A photo of Elin walking with her white long cane

I’ve stumbled upon (quite literally sometimes) many people in my life who have chosen to treat me differently because of my sight loss, they probably have their reasons for that and I can’t blame anyone for it because vision impairment isn’t something that everyone will come across in their day-to-day lives. But, the fact that these people see me as ‘different’ forced me in a way to make them realise that my disability doesn’t define me and that I am so much more than my disability. Whilst that’s true, when truly thinking about it, I realised that it does define me in many ways but not in a negative way.

I’m reminded that I live with a disability every morning when I wake up, when I’m met with a blurred canvas that prevents me from seeing hardly anything every time I open my eyes, but I don’t sit and wallow over this. Instead, I get up and get on with my day because it’s what I’m used to and it’s what I want to do.

A photo of Elin in front of trees and flowers

Living with sight loss has brought a number of challenges into my life, there are constant hurdles and barriers that need to be overcome but facing them has meant that my disability has given me strength, courage, positivity and a number of little quirks that make me who I am. All those things are a part of my identity and that makes my disability a part of it too, I’m ok with that and I choose to embrace it as best as I can.

Many aspects of my life would probably be very different if I wasn’t visually impaired but who knows how different it actually could have been. Although I do sometimes wonder about how different my life would be if I didn’t live with sight loss, I’ve learned to accept my disability and all the things that come along with it, including those little quirks it gives me that play a part in building up my identity.

A photo of Elin in front of trees and flowers

A portrait photo of Elin

 

I will always say that I don’t want to be recognised as the disabled young woman, not straight off the bat anyway. My vision impairment is a long way down the list of things that I would label myself as, NOTE, it’s still on that list because I have no shame in talking about it, embracing it an raising awareness of it.

So what is my identity? Well, I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger, a student, someone who can come across as being quite shy but a girl who has a lot to say and can have a good laugh once you get to know me. But, I am also disabled and I want to use that to my advantage, to raise awareness, to spread positivity and most importantly to hopefully help others who might be in a similar situation.

All of the above are a part of my identity, they make me who I am and I’m proud of that.

What makes up your identity? Do you also live with a disability? Do you see it as something that defines you, something that’s a part of your identity and who you are? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Elin x

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10 Comments

    • myblurredworld@gmail.com
      Author
      May 21, 2018 / 5:27 pm

      Thank you lovely!x

  1. May 20, 2018 / 11:12 pm

    Very thought provoking post hun, I completely agree with you on everything that you said. I definitely think my disability has shaped who I am and is a part of my identity but it doesn’t 100 % define us and we are so much more than our blindness xxx

    • myblurredworld@gmail.com
      Author
      May 21, 2018 / 5:28 pm

      Completely agree babe!xxx

  2. Ellie
    May 22, 2018 / 12:15 am

    I can’t even express the amount of times people have suddenly asked me, the same, sometimes inappropriate, sometimes stupid questions and think I can’t do something because of my VI. I appreciate that the majority of the time it’s the first time they’ve met someone with a VI and it’s all about education because It’s almost like we’re hidden away in society and only let out once a month or something.
    My VI is part of who I am but it’s not the whole consuming part of me. It’s almost like they’ve never met anyone with a disability before so it’s all so alien to them that It simply has to be spoken up immediately otherwise they’ll just implode with the excitement of the newness of it all. I would much rather someone asked me about my tattoos or about my dreams and aspirations or who my favourite friends character is over making my VI front and centre all the time.

    • myblurredworld@gmail.com
      Author
      May 22, 2018 / 8:39 am

      I completely agree with you on this. People don’t often come across VI so I guess that’s why they’re full of questions but it would be so much better and nicer for us in a way to be asked about the things that make us who we are rather than our vision impairment. I hope this changes as time goes on and more awareness is raised. Thank you for reading.

  3. May 22, 2018 / 6:28 pm

    This is such an interesting post that resonates with how I feel and I completely agree with your point about your visual impairment being part of you but not making it your main identifying feature. We are made of so many features and characteristics, this is just one part!

    • myblurredworld@gmail.com
      Author
      May 23, 2018 / 9:23 am

      I’m glad you can relate. That’s so true! Thank you for reading 🙂

  4. Dan
    May 24, 2018 / 8:25 pm

    My identity: I’m visually impaired, a carer to a family member and have depression due to past problems in my life. However i always try my best to keep pushing forwards positively and always try to make those i know happy. Even if i fail at times cause i don’t feel good. People can know you for 5 seconds or 5 months and still have preconceived opinions about you because they judge you on your sight loss or your depression or your circumstances. But they should get to know the real person. Great post Elin. Tells the message to embrace who you are. 🙂

  5. June 15, 2018 / 12:09 pm

    Great blog. Having been unable to work for the last 5 months or do the things you usually do, I’ve been thinking a lot about identity. I am a professional… Or am I? Keep writing.

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