Vision without Sight | Teen Ink

Vision without Sight

October 14, 2019
By cmarieburk BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
cmarieburk BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

You know those cute videos of babies getting glasses, looking around, and bursting into laughter at the sudden clarity of their parents' faces? This was what my parents expected when I was 10 months old when the eye doctor perscribed me glasses; for the first few months of my life, I lacked all interest in all visual stimuli.I never made eye contact with anyone. My motor milestones were delayed, and I undershot every toy I reached for. My parents worries vanished when the doctor said glasses were the fix to all our problems. They stood, absorbed in their excitement as the optometrist slid the cotton candy pink frames over my face, securing the arms behind my ears. 

True to fashion, I didn’t respond in the way they expected. My right eye remained turned towards my nose. I did not look around, or notice anything new. There was no laughter of joy when I saw my parents' faces; a pit grew in the depths of my parents’ stomachs. Not long after, I received the first of many labels: legally blind. My parents trembled at the thought of a future where I would be disabled, dependent on others, and alone in my struggles. Once again, I reacted contrary to their expectations; I had never seen clearly. I couldn’t be disabled in a world I’d never seen.

For the years to follow, I adapted to the world in it’s beautiful blur. Maybe I did struggle to distinguish my dad from any other white, lanky, bald man in a crowd. Maybe the font on my phone was so large that my sister often read my texts from across the room. Maybe my legs were forever bruised from smashing into tables (or walls, or small children, or falling over curbs). But, here’s the thing; I loved it. My blindness was beautiful, and there was nothing I would exchange it for. 

There were never vision related struggles before high school, but then I began to fail scantron tests because I couldn’t see the bubbles. The answer is A. I knew that! Yet, I often ended up marking some space between B and C. Even though I tried to advocate, certain teachers still refused to sit me in the front. I learned to take notes through listening, but I was deprived access to material on the board. For the first time, I recognized my difference. My vision disabled me.

I went home crying every day for the first three months of freshmen year. I’m not good enough. I wish I could see. Tears would pour from my strained eyes.  And even though my dad was witnessing me at my breaking point; he never hugged me. He didn’t wipe my tears. I pleaded, “I need your support, help me!” I couldn’t see it, but he was supporting me through standing back. Because he knew that this was the most important lesson that anyone could ever teach me. 

The world is made for sighted people. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I am different from everyone else. For the rest of my life, I will continue to face ignorance. Now I know how to stand up and use my voice. There will be people who won’t accomodate me. It is my job to speak for myself. Self advocacy is the only tool that will ever get me any of the things I need to succeed. 

I am good enough for this world. I am smart enough. And more importantly, I am bold and brave enough to be different. I can see. I can see so many things that other people can’t. I enjoy the same sunrises. I see people for who they are, rather than for their face. I may not know what my own face looks like, but I know who I am. I’m gifted with the beauty of blindness, and I love it.

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