One of my favourite blog posts I’ve written this year was one from a couple of months ago which was all about the things I wish I’d known when growing up with sight loss. To me, there was something quite nostalgic about that post, it allowed me to reflect back on my childhood and think about some of the things I wish I’d known back then that would have made the process of growing up with sight loss a little easier.
I recently read through that blog post again (don’t judge me for reading through my old posts, it’s normal, I think), and it got me thinking, although knowing the things I mentioned in that post would have made some aspects of my life with regards to my vision impairment, a little easier, there are also things that I could have done or said that would have allowed me to make things easier for myself – then, the idea for this post came to mind.
I was quite a shy child, I didn’t have much to say to anyone apart from those I was comfortable around and I didn’t really know how to express myself. So, when it came to my vision impairment, I wasn’t sure how to voice my opinions about it, how to explain how it made me feel and how to explain my needs.
So, these are just a few things that I wish I’d spoken up about when I was growing up with sight loss. Hopefully it can help someone else who might be in a similar situation.
How lonely it could be
As I said, I wasn’t a very communicative child at the best of times and this resulted in some difficulty for me in terms of making new friends. I’ve mentioned in a few of my older posts that, like many people, I was bullied at school and one of the main reasons for this was my vision impairment. It knocked the little confidence I did have and made me feel like I was different to everyone else. Because of this, I found it difficult to fit in which lead to a feeling of loneliness on far too many occasions.
I felt particularly lonely in my first year of sixth form, it was a year when I felt really isolated and disconnected from everything and everyone around me, deep I know, but true. But, I managed to turn that around and I’m now really lucky in the sense that I have a really supportive group of friends who will always be there if I need to talk, I’m really grateful to them for that so thank you friends (you know who you are).
What support I needed
You’ll soon notice the running theme of shyness throughout this post – Due to being really quiet when I was at school, I was never really sure how to voice what support I needed so I often found myself struggling with some things. I’ve always been the kind of person that says I’m fine when someone asks if I’m ok or if I need help with anything and due to the fact that I was still trying to come to grips with my vision impairment when I was at primary school and during my first year or so at secondary school, I wasn’t particularly aware of what support I needed in order to make things easier.
I’m lucky that I have received a lot of support over the years and I still do, something I’m really grateful for but I wish I had been a little more assertive when it came to asking for the support I needed in order to complete work, help I needed in terms of mobility etc.
How bad my vision actually was
I was guilty on more than one occasion of not admitting how bad my vision actually was when I was growing up. I did say when my vision deteriorated but I never said to what extent. I was trying so hard to get to grips with it for myself so trying to explain how bad my vision was and how it was affecting me proved to be very difficult. There were a lot of things that I struggled with purely because I wasn’t prepared to disclose the severity of my vision. If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to speak up, to stop struggling in silence and just accept the fact that it’s ok to ask for help and it’s ok to admit when you’re struggling.
I think, at one point, I was trying so hard to fit in which resulted in my vision impairment being pushed to the back of my mind, I didn’t want to mention it in any form of conversation because I was trying so hard to be ‘normal’, not realising at that point that I was as normal as anyone could be, I just happened to be visually impaired.
What I found difficult
I’m a really determined (and slightly stubborn) person. When I was younger, I found it quite hard to admit when I was finding things difficult and when I needed a little more help. Of course, the fact that I wasn’t always ready to admit these things meant that whatever it was that I was struggling with got even harder. I was digging myself a hole in a way and because I wasn’t always ready to come out of my shell, explain my needs and ask for help, it just got deeper. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realised the importance of admitting when I’m struggling and if I find things difficult with regards to my vision impairment nowadays, I will ask for help and I will say when I’m finding something difficult.
All of the above are things that have become a little easier for me over time, as I’ve learned to understand and accept my vision impairment and as I’ve grown in confidence. Although there are things that I could have done differently in order to make life a little easier for myself, I’m lucky that I received the support that I did. There have been a lot of challenges over the years and I’m sure there will be more in the future but I now feel so much more confident in addressing and overcoming them than I did when I was younger.
Now, I won’t shy away from admitting when I’m finding something difficult and I’m not afraid to say if I’m feeling a little lonely. I hope that someone who’s as shy as I was or even those who are the most confident, know that it’s ok to admit all of the things I’ve mentioned in this post, none of them are weaknesses, I wish I’d realised that sooner. I may not have said or admitted these things when I was younger but I sure will do in the future, and that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?
Are there things that you wish you had said or admitted when you were younger? Disability or not. Let me know as I always love hearing what you have to say.