Growing up with sight loss has majorly impacted some of the ways I approach some aspects of life, it has been a real eye-opener at times and with that, a lot of lessons have been learned. My disability is somewhat invisible, I’ve had a few gasps when I’ve told people I can’t see and it often leads to a number of questions being thrown my way.
There can be a lot of frustrations when it comes to my vision impairment but I try my best to focus on the positives and it has helped me in many ways to put things into perspective.
Here are just a few things that my disability has taught me about life.
It’s important to talk to others who are in the same or similar situation
If my vision impairment has taught me one thing then it’s how important it is to speak to others who are experiencing something similar to you. I didn’t realise how beneficial this could be when I was younger and every time it was suggested to me to attend a social group or talk to someone else who was also visually impaired, I was always reluctant. I would always reply with ‘no thanks, not for me’ because I genuinely thought that it wouldn’t benefit me in any way. Oh, how very wrong was I? Since meeting others who are also visually impaired, I’ve realised the importance of talking to someone who can relate to what you’re going through, I found it’s true for things such as anxiety and chronic fatigue as well.
It’s almost a sense of relief, knowing that someone can fully understand where you’re coming from and you don’t have to worry about trying to explain every detail because they get it and where you’re coming from. We can all do with a listening ear and it’s even more comforting to have one who understands what you’re going through.
Not everyone will accept or understand disability
I’ve come across quite a lot of people who have treated me as if I’m a completely different species to them, it’s as if they think aliens have landed on earth and I’m one of them. Ok, maybe I’m being slightly dramatic with that one but you get my drift. I’ve learned that despite a lot of people’s efforts, not everyone is going to accept or understand disability and that’s ok. After all, it’s not something that everyone is going to come across in their day-to-day lives so how can we expect them to understand?
I’ve learned that not everyone will accept you but maybe that’s more a problem for them than it is for you. There are plenty of people out there who are accepting of disability, I’m lucky that I have so many of those people in my life who I’m extremely grateful for. Focus on the ones who accept you for you, who don’t consider your disability or anything else about you to be a negative, those are the people who you want to surround yourself with.
You have to stand up for yourself
This is probably one of the things I’ve struggled most with in my 20 years in this world. I’ve always been a quiet character and I found it impossible to stand up for myself when it came to people saying harsh things about me for example. But, living with a disability has proven to me that it’s key to be able to stand up for yourself and what you’re entitled to. As a visually impaired person, I need work/documents to be provided for me in an accessible format and I need services such as passenger assistance on trains to work effectively so I can travel independently. I’ve learned that I need to speak out if the above or anything else isn’t provided for me or doesn’t work like it should. I’ve learned the importance of sticking up for myself. After all, if I can’t stand up for myself then who will?
It’s important to push yourself
I have come across an endless amount of challenges as a visually impaired person, a lot of which knocked my confidence. But, I’ve realised the importance of not giving up, not to throw in the towel and to push myself to face those challenges, whether they’re disability related or not.
Being different is underrated
I spent most of my childhood wishing I fit in, wishing that others my age saw me as ‘normal’, wishing I could be like everyone else and not having to have support or to be guided. But, I’ve grown to realise that fitting in is overrated. People often regard me with pitiful remarks and see my disability as being something negative and something that makes me different to them. But as I said, I try to focus on the positives and think of the perks because, believe it or not, there are plenty.
Those are just a few things that my disability has taught me about life and there’s plenty more from where those came from. I always strive to think about the positives that my disability brings into my life, I try to focus on the things that it teaches me, the things it helps me to understand and put into perspective. I never sugarcoat my vision impairment and I’d be one of the first to admit that it can be difficult and challenging but it can also be very rewarding and eye-opening. It has not only helped me to approach and deal with my vision impairment in a more positive way but many other aspects of my life aswell.
What wisdom have you learned from living with a disability or from someone you know who’s disabled? I’d love to hear what you have to say.