Posted on 3 Comments

Finding Empowerment When Societal Expectations & Capabilities Clash

Finding Empowerment Featured Image Description is in the body of the post.

Finding Empowerment When Societal Expectations & Capabilities Clash

While trying to deal with my vision loss I struggled with comments from others. Comments like: what they believed I would and wouldn’t be able to achieve with my level of vision. There were days when I would believe what was being said, I would admit defeat and question whether I was making the right choices. 

~Cassie Hames

WOTM* 58 Cassie Hames

How often do we hear that we can’t or shouldn’t be able to do something because of our vision? This belief can come from family, friends, medical professionals, strangers and even ourselves. Through my vision loss journey with my cane Hawkeye by my side, I’m learning if there’s a will there’s a way. There just might need to be some modifications needed along the way.

Shark Cage description is in the body of the post.
Shark Cage

While trying to deal with my vision loss I struggled with comments from others. Comments like: what they believed I would and wouldn’t be able to achieve with my level of vision. There were days when I believed what was being said. I would admit defeat and question whether I was making the right choices. Other days the comments would frustrate me and I became more determined than ever to prove them wrong.

I once had an educational manager inform me I was making the wrong choice in wanting to become a programmer. As far as he was concerned I wouldn’t be able to use a computer. He believed this in spite of my attempts at explaining about the technology that was available. Going home that day I was upset by his comments and started to doubt myself. Thankfully, I turned those doubts around and backed myself. As a result, I’ve been working as a programmer at Skytrust for the last ten years.

Inspiration Leads To Acceptance

Like a lot of people, I struggled to accept the fact that I needed to use a cane. I was certain that I could get by without one and I tried hard to prove it. However, when walking without using a cane my posture was terrible, and my neck was in a lot of pain from staring intently at the ground.

To help come to some level of acceptance to use my cane I decided it needed a name. Inspired from one of my favourite tv shows M*A*S*H I chose the name Hawkeye. Soon after I decided Hawkeye needed some eyes, and with this, I started taking photos of his adventures for a bit of fun. As Hawkeye’s personality developed, my acceptance of using him improved.

A few years after naming and putting eyes on Hawkeye I created
an Instagram account, @HawkeyesTravels, for him. It was created to show a lighter side to vision loss as well as to show that anything is possible despite the challenges we might face. If you have seen his Instagram account, you will notice that in most of Hawkeye’s photos he is in focus while the background is blurry. I have done this intentionally to give an example of what it might look like for someone with a vision impairment.

New Challenges On The Horizon

I am always looking for new ways to challenge myself and show others what can be achieved even with a vision loss. Last year I bought a unicycle so that I could teach myself how to ride it. Whilst I currently can’t ride it without holding onto a handrail, I believe that with enough practice and determination I will one day be able to ride it without holding onto something.

Cassie and Hawkeye image description is in the body of the post.
Cassie & Hawkeye

This year I have also been teaching myself how to juggle. Currently, I can juggle three balls and given enough time I will be juggling more. My goal is to one day be able to ride my unicycle and juggle at the same time, while it won’t happen overnight it will happen someday. In previous years I have been shark cage diving, go karting, horseriding, climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge, and travelled to different countries around the world to name a few activities.

As for what I will try to learn or attempt next? In the short-term it looks like sword fighting or fire eating. Long-term I haven’t decided yet, but I am certainly excited coming up with all kinds of different ideas.

While I know it’s not easy to ignore the doubters, remember to back yourself—you have got this!

Finding Empowerment Featured Image Description:

This photo is a still shot of Cassie holding juggling balls while on a unicycle. Photo credit:  Richard Lyons

Additional Images:
  • Shark Cage – Cassie is underwater in a shark cage wearing goggles and breathing apparatus. Additional air hose tubing can be seen floating above her head.
  • Cassie & Hawkeye – In this image Cassie is posing with Hawkeye to her left (who’s looking a tad shifty-eyed) and a dog in front of her. Cassie is smiling broadly and wearing a ballcap, sunglasses, and a gray hoodie.
*WOTM is Women On The Move