Double Vision | Teen Ink

Double Vision MAG

July 31, 2018
By aver BRONZE, Paw Paw, Michigan
aver BRONZE, Paw Paw, Michigan
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
The truth is that everyone is amazing. It's just that some people let themselves be convinced that they're not.

“Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” If only I had seen that warning before crashing into the very mirror onto which it was engraved. In an effort to beat my brother in an epic bicycle race, seventh-grade me slammed into my dad’s car mirror, sending shards of broken glass into my arm. Seeing things is not really my forte. My ophthalmologist calls it a “visual impairment” or “oculocutaneous albinism” if he wants to sound fancy. I just say I have bad eyes. For other people, this means I probably won’t recognize them if they wave at me from across the street. For me, my visual impairment means I literally see the world differently than everybody else. This altered perception of reality challenges me at times; however, it has also proven to be an extraordinary blessing, allowing me to confront issues from an entirely different perspective.

One area of my life in which this viewpoint has been especially useful is my wrestling career. One strategy many wrestlers use is “playing the clock.” This technique involves looking at the clock to gauge how much time is left in a period and altering activity levels and moves accordingly in order to utilize energy effectively. However, to do this satisfactorily, one must be able to quickly make out the numbers on the clock. My eyes inhibit me from doing this. Due to this inability, I wrestle at the same high-intensity level regardless of the time remaining in each period. I specifically recall the regional championship match during my sophomore year in which being unable to play the clock led me to victory. During this meet, I came face-to-face with a wrestler who had beaten me earlier that season. In order to defeat him, I knew I needed to attack throughout all three periods. After nearly an entire match of relentless offense, my opponent eventually cracked. I got the match-winning takedown with only seconds to spare. I surely would have never won that match if I had approached it from the standard perspective and waited to begin my assault until the clock had almost expired.

My abnormal vision is the beauty of my distorted perception. A healthy skepticism of what my eyes tell me about the world has led me to question what most individuals take for granted. Where others perceive impossibility or incapability, I have learned to look for new opportunity and hope. A life filled with overcoming challenges in spite of my lacking visual acuity has shown me that limitations are often self-imposed. Therefore, I consistently challenge claims that others may traditionally view as valid. This past school year, for instance, multiple teachers approached me about a student I had recently begun tutoring. They explained, “He doesn’t do his work,” “He can’t stay focused,” and “He just doesn’t get it.” Had I minded these instructors’ comments more, I may have treated the student differently. Perhaps I would have given up on him after the presentation he neglected to mention and forgot to prepare for or the numerous instances he failed to take notes or do practice problems. However, my perspective differed from those shared by so many of the others in his life. In my eyes, he had tremendous potential. He had the capacity to learn and the ability to be a successful student. When I began tutoring him, this student had four failing classes. By the time we finished, he achieved all passing grades and was up to a C average for the semester. Thankfully, he was not a kid who “just doesn’t get it” in my eyes.

I was blessed and cursed with two eyes of my own. They have led me into cars and broken glass, but they have also saved me from falling victim to misconceptions about myself and others. My imperfect eyesight, although injury-provoking at times, has allowed me to develop a unique outlook on life. 

The author's comments:

Much of the discussion surrounding disabilities nowadays serves to highlight the ways disabilities hurt those who are disabled. However, I think it's just as important to discuss the ways that disabilities can empower, not just disable. 

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