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Its Not Me...Its You Article

Over the last 18 years of learning to be blind, I have gotten used to people saying things to me like: “That’s amazing” and “How do you do that…blind?” For a long time I accepted the accolades and encouragement because I was teaching myself how to be blind and yes, I was proud to be coping on my own. Later, as I found Services for the blind, cane travel instruction, advanced technology, and blind schools, I accepted the awe and admiration because I knew the truth was; I’m not a very impressive blind person. Living in a rural small town, walking around without falling, and cooking without starting fires were things to be proud of, because I didn’t have the training I needed to understand there was more to life than settling for charity because I was blind. As my world opened up and I experienced greater accomplishments, these cheering on-lookers that I had always felt where in my corner, now felt like people who highly underestimated my strength, my determination, and my intelligence. seeds of bitterness and frustration began to build inside of my heart and anger for the sighted clawed at the edges of my thirst for life.
One day I was talking to my best friend about the frustrations I was having. Why don’t the people who know me and love me see me as a person, instead of a blind person? Why does society in general believe that blind means unteachable?
My best friend, in all of his wisdom listened to me rant and rave, without saying a word or defending himself and then he took my hand.
“I think you’re amazing because you face every day when if I were blind, I couldn’t for even an hour. I don’t think its amazing that you live a normal life, I think its amazing that you want to.”
With his words it dawned on my self-absorbed understanding, people aren’t impressed with the blind because they are blind and functional. They are terrified that without their sight, they would curl up and die. Ridiculous, I know, everyone who has lost or is loosing their vision knows their is life out there, beyond the darkness. But for anyone who has relied on sight their entire lives, that concept is as foreign to them as breathing water is to those of us with lungs. They don’t think blind capable people are amazing, they doubt their own ability to cope with what they see as a great tragedy.
When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dream for his children, he extolled the virtues of the very idea that The National Federation of The Blind embraces. Judge us for our character, not for what you see. The accolades and the applause is character based: strength, courage, determination, and intelligence. The delivery is bad, but the truth is; its not you…its them.
Rather than be offended and turn into someone who is: mean, sarcastic, judge mental and offensive. Offer the same comprehension that we ask of the sighted when it comes to dealing with the blind. Show your true character and judge others on theirs.

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  1. 1

    Well put.

  2. 2

    This is so true. I hear this all the time with my blindness and use to hear it about diabetes. .."I don't know how you take shots everyday! If that was me I would just have to die because I could not do that". We all face different challenges, but those of the unknown are frightening. We many times under estimate our own abilities. I have started to take those compliments as encouraging words that I have made progress with this situation, but there is always something else around the corner that I will not be prepared for that will be my next challenge. Sometimes those little things can be offered at the right time. Coping with blindness is sometimes difficult, but it is manageable. Thank you for the reminder that we are all pretty fascinating people.

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