Vision impairment and the experiences I have as a person living with a disability is a topic that often comes up on my blog. This being because it’s something I’m passionate about, something I could talk about for hours and it’s something important to me that I want to raise awareness of.
Having lived most of my life as a visually impaired person, there’s an endless amount of things that I want to talk about surrounding the subject. It might seem like I keep banging on about the same things but that’s because there’s so much I want to cover, so many things that can be written about. And I can only hope that by writing the things I, along with my fellow disabled bloggers do, the subject of disability can have its breakthrough one day and become something that society and the media start to normalise.
With that being said, today’s post is about something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, this being some of the differences that come hand-in-hand with my vision impairment and how different do they really make me.
I’ve been working on a guest blog post recently about bullying and some of my experiences with it in the past (it will be coming your way soon), I was quick to realise that something I mentioned throughout that article was how being bullied made me feel different.
It got me thinking about how different my disability makes me and how much thinking about those things has affected me as I’ve grown up.
I’ve been pondering over this for the past few days, recapping in a way about why I felt different and was it or is it really necessary for me to feel that way.
When I’ve been asked in the past about what I want fully sighted or non-disabled people to realise about those of us who are visually impaired, I’ve said something along the lines of ‘we’re not different and we shouldn’t be treated differently.’ Whilst the latter is true, it got me thinking about the former and why I felt like it was so important for me to highlight it.
What are the differences?
Even though I spent so much time trying to ignore it, in all honesty, there are aspects to my life, to my disability which do make me different. I mean, it’s not often that you see a 20 year old walking around with a cane, being sighted guided, having mobility training, using a screen reader to navigate a phone or computer, it’s not the norm and whilst there’s a part of me who doesn’t like that I have to do all of the above, there’s also a big part of me who’s learned to accept it and learned to live life as best I can despite all of those things.
I felt different to everyone else when growing up because my schoolwork had to be adapted to my preferred format, I had to use a laptop to do my work, I couldn’t see where my friends were when I walked into a room and it often made me feel quite isolated.
I always focused far too much on what other people’s opinions of me were, if they deemed me as being different or not and that is what often lead to me considering myself to be different.
Then this feeling of being different turned into a completely different attitude, I couldn’t understand why people saw me as being different to them and I became adamant to prove to people that I wasn’t different and it was a message I tried to convey time and time again.
Despite going through both those phases, I think I’ve found the right balance of both now and I’ve adopted a mindset that reminds me that yes, I do have some differences but those come as a result of things I have to do because of my disability, not the person I am.
The things that make me ‘different’ are ultimately the things that allow me to live my life, to be independent and to navigate this world which wasn’t designed for us who are blind or visually impaired.
Even though the things I listed make me ‘different’, I’m not different in the sense of who I am as a person, I can still have fun, have goals, dreams and ambitions, be hard-working, achieve things, have a good group of friends and so many more things that people consider to be ‘normal’.
It’s been a long, hard road, one which I’m still finding myself stopping still on sometimes but I’ve learned to accept all the quirks that come alongside my disability.
Sure, there are things that make me different but are they really that big of a deal?
Isn’t the main thing that I stay true to who I am, stick to focusing on the good things, the positives, my ambitions, where I want to go in life?
I might have a few glares when I’m out and about with my cane, people might have a giggle when I trip or walk into something and these things might mean that I stand out from the crowd sometimes but maybe its better to embrace that. After all, fitting in is hard so why not take the easy option this time and stand out instead? Embrace your differences, embrace the things that make you, YOU.
This way of thinking, talking to others who are in a similar situation and gaining encouragement from my family and friends are all things which have helped me to find acceptance. Something which has helped me to look at things in a more positive way.
So, how different am I, really?
The truth of the matter is, apart from being a cane user, needing to familiarise myself with different routes and being slightly more prone to crashing into things, I’m not that different to you reading this.
My disability means that I’m different in some ways but using a cane, needing extra support with some things and needing things to be more accessible don’t take away from who I am.
Every time I talk to my family and friends about the subject and the word disabled, they always say that they don’t consider me to be and that, in actual fact, they focus more on the abled part of the word, hearing them say that encourages me to do the same.
So I can’t drive, I can’t see a single thing when walking into a room and I can’t see the funny GIF’s that my friends send me but these things are insignificant compared to the things I can do. After all, I’m able to reach my goals, achieve things, be kind and compassionate and have a good time. All the things that really matter.
Although having to use a cane and not being able to hop on a train without assistance or familiarising myself with the station can get me down sometimes, it’s ok for me to feel that way. Even though they’re aspects of my life which I’ve learned to accept, it doesn’t mean that I have to be positive about it all the time. I feel like there’s a difference between accepting and being positive about everything 24/7.
I do have my differences but don’t we all?
I’m sure we all have things we wish we could change about ourselves but sometimes we can’t do anything about it and that’s why I think it’s important to learn to accept it. Our journey to acceptance might be a long one but it’s not something that goes on forever.
There are some days when I get frustrated by my disability but there are others when I’m thankful for it. Over the years, I’ve learned to accept that there are certain aspects of my life which make me ‘different’ but I try to look at them as quirks rather than differences.
I’ve learned how to accept that and how to be comfortable in my own skin and embrace the things that people don’t consider to be ‘normal’,
We all have things that make us unique and if my disability contributes to that for me then so be it, there’s no fun in being like everyone else anyway, is there?
I love sharing my experiences of living with sight loss, writing about how I deal with it and so on, I hope by writing the things I do, I can help others who might be in a similar situation and shine a light on a subject that not many people hear of often.
People have told me in the past that my posts have helped them in some way and as a blogger, that’s one of the best kinds of feedback I can have.
Hearing people say that my posts have helped them to gain a different perspective or makes them feel less alone is such a rewarding feeling for me and reminds me that I must be on the right track. It also helps me to find more acceptance for myself.
It’s easier said than done and it’s taken me a long time to start telling myself this but learning to love yourself, your quirks, your differences and embracing them will, in time, help you to gain a more positive perspective, you’ll soon be an unstoppable force, don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
Have you ever considered yourself to be ‘different’ because of your disability or anything else about you? How did you learn to embrace that and turn it into a positive? Share any tips or advice you have in the comments or on social media, I’m always up for hearing any advice you might have.