I’m leaving home tomorrow.
Even though a few months ago I left for the first time, this feels more real and substantial for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m going alone. Not that I’m flying alone, but that I’m going to really be “on my own” when I get back to my orientation and mobility training program in Seattle. This time, no one is coming with me to help, but it’s not a bad thing. Neither I nor my parents have any doubts — I can handle all of this.
To a lot of people, this kind of thing happens naturally and isn’t a big deal. But even though I’ve always been intelligent, things were more difficult to learn because I had much less vision than others in a sight-dependent world.
After graduation, I decided to take a gap year. Even though many young people do this, I wasn’t excited about it at all. I didn’t want to be any more different from other people than I already am. It turns out, the problem was really my perspective. Living and working with other blind and visually impaired individuals at this program has really opened my eyes (pun intended.) It hasn’t been easy. Going to this program feels like your disability is being shoved in your face every day, and that’s hard, especially knowing I am going to lose more vision as I get older. Everyone there has a lot of emotions about their situation. Each person has a story, none of us are perfect and we don’t always get along.
Blindness doesn’t discriminate. Rich, poor, tall, short, thick, thin, all kinds are affected by this impairment. To put it simply, the OTC (Orientation Training Center) is a lot of imperfect people trying to make the best life they can for themselves despite the challenges they face. That’s not a mantra or anything, just my personal assessment.
At first, I was a little disappointed looking at my friends’ college pictures, thinking “that should be me.” I got over it, though. This year was my chrysalis. I have two acceptance letters plus scholarships to great colleges and a ton of possibilities. I love myself and have more confidence than I ever have before. To be honest, it’s a wonderful feeling.
Although I’m surprised and proud when it comes to my metamorphosis, I didn’t write this solely for that reason. School was really hard. I was a caterpillar at one time. Sixth grade to 11th felt like I was crawling on my belly, trying not to get eaten. In 12th, amazed I survived to that point, I started to make my chrysalis. I know I’m not the only person who felt like school was more about survival than having a good time. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but if you’re thinking about giving up on yourself, don’t do it. Not for me or your S.O. or even your mom, but because if you give up, you will never get to know all the wonderful things you can be.
Follow this journey on The Blink Butterfly.
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? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.