The One Regret I Live With as a Person Who’s Legally Blind

I like to live with no regrets. By believing out of every mistake comes a lesson learned, I have been able to stay positive — most of the time.

Growing up, my parents helped me believe I could do anything I set my mind to, disability or not. As a child, I’m sure this was easy to believe because I was so happy and carefree. Not to say that I’m not happy now, but as an adult, I’m more aware of my strengths, weaknesses and limitations.

Emily Parma

It wasn’t until I was sitting in a college class that I realized I do have one big regret. As I sat and listened to a guest speaker talk about her life as a fully blind person, it moved me. She talked about how people in her school said she couldn’t play sports, and yet she ran track. She ran and ran well.

She explained how she had a partner with her at every track meet, using a rope that they each held in their hands. When her partner ran, she ran, and when the rope tugged right, she ran to the right. She never let her disability stop her.

My stomach began to turn inside. Why couldn’t I do that? I too was told in high school that I couldn’t play sports because of my disability. I sat out during P.E. I accepted this then, growing up in a house that really had nothing to do with sports. I hated running and pretty much every sport out there.

I remember going to high school football games with friends, and no matter where I sat, I couldn’t tell who was who or where the ball was. It made me feel embarrassed and somewhat depressed.

I hated going to sports events. Everyone on the field looked the same, and I only knew where the ball went when the people ran in that direction. I went anyway, but I vowed I would never go again.

It’s a secret I held for so long — why I hate sports. I guess I was jealous of others’ abilities, and going somewhere where I couldn’t see what was going on made me sad.

It wasn’t just sports events; I also hated going to dance performances. I would sit in the crowd and cheer friends on without truly knowing who was who on the stage. I refused to use binoculars, of course. So I quit going to shows altogether. Avoiding it all was easy.

Here I am, three years into college, thinking about what that guest speaker said and regretting never giving what was hard a chance. If someone with no vision at all can run, then what is stopping me from learning to swim, to run or to play tennis? I want to prove to myself that I can do it. Surely there are resources out there for someone like me who is legally blind.

But as an adult, is it too late for me? I’m a huge advocate for the visually impaired, but I can’t fully advocate if I let my own disability hold me back.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Blindness

When Praying Away My Disability as a Teen Didn't Work

Mandy. As a kid, I grew up the Catholic way. I went to doctrine classes every Wednesday and made my sacramental milestones, from my First Reconciliation, my Holy Communion and then finally my Confirmation. My grandmother is a devoted Catholic whose nightly ritual was based on prayer cards and rosary beads. I even had great aunts [...]

Why I Can Relate to ‘Zootopia’ Having Grown Up Legally Blind

“Zootopia” has been one of the top movies for weeks. I originally thought it was just another silly kids’ movie, but it has brought me great inspiration, thanks to a little bunny known as Judy Hopps. Mandy (left) with her friends. Judy reminds me of myself. Growing up as a person who’s legally blind, I [...]

Facebook's Automatic Alternative Text Gives Photo Descriptions to Blind Users

Facebook just launched a program that reads keywords related to images on users’ newsfeeds. Automatic alternative text, or automatic alt text, uses object recognition technology to offer a “richer description” of the photo content. On its Newsroom press page, Facebook stated that 2 billion photos are uploaded across its family of apps every day, and [...]

When You Live in the Grey Area of Blindness

When people see me read within five inches from my face, they ask me, “Do you wear contacts?” or “Do you have glasses at home?” To which I say yes, and then they have a look of confusion on their faces. For most people, vision is something that can and must be fixed. They snap [...]