The thing that bothered me most about my sight loss was my fear of people knowing I couldn’t see. Everywhere I went I felt so vulnerable and isolated not to mention, my anxiety levels rocketed off into the stratosphere.
So what did I do as my sight deteriorated to the point where each step I took was a step closer to breaking my neck? I faked it.
Adjusting to sight loss is a process and everyone who goes through it does so in a different way. I was so used to putting on my professional mask to face each day, it was important to me that people saw what I wanted them to see—a composed person. Yet at the end of each day, and sometimes throughout the day while hidden in a restroom stall, I was a blubbering mess who felt my life was unraveling.
“In addition to indicating that a person is blind or visually impaired, the long thin white cane is more than just a mobility tool for blind and vision impaired users. It is also a badge of strength and boldness. It provides the means for us to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum.”
When I met with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) to discuss the assistive technology I would need to keep my job, I was stunned when he mentioned the white cane. I expected to answer questions to determine my needs but it never crossed my mind that the white cane would be part of the discussion. I mean I couldn’t see but I wasn’t blind. I had a lot to learn.
“The only person you are fooling is yourself when you pretend you CAN see when you clearly CAN’T,” this comment from the VRC didn’t go over well with me. Even so, I grudgingly took Orientation and Mobility training to learn how to use the white cane and once my lessons were over the cane remained in my closet for quite some time.
My eventual acceptance of the white cane came about as I began to accept my sight loss. Meeting and befriending blind people who strongly advocate for the rights of blind persons led me to volunteer for several blind organizations. Becoming a part of the blind community and refocusing my efforts on helping others was the most important piece that ultimately gave me a sense of peace.
I still have days where I don’t feel as secure as I’d like, we all do, but when I come back to my why, I can recharge, readjust, and refocus to stoke the fire of my passion. Improving humanity by changing the way we perceive one another is my mission and to achieve it I must continue moving forward and doing so with my white cane. I’ve found that being Bold Blind and Beautiful comes about from living life to the best of my ability.