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Sight Loss Story Is More Than Meets The Eye

Sight Loss Story More Than Meets The Eye featured image description is in the body of the post.

When I succeed, I am proud of myself but don’t take it as a blind girl win. When I fail, I forgive myself and think of an alternative way to succeed.

~Jenna Faris

Sight Loss Story Is More Than Meets The Eye

My sight loss story has no true beginning or end as I was diagnosed with congenital blindness at four weeks old. For reasons unknown to anyone, my limited vision declined steadily throughout my life. Blurry shapes and contrasts I could make out at five years old are now mere memories. Perhaps what little I can see today will one day be a memory, as well.

Not much is known about my family’s rare hereditary condition. It doesn’t have a name, and there is no cure for it.
With half of us blind, and the other half sighted, my family is split down the middle.

Since I was legally blind at birth, I never went through that difficult transition period of growing accustomed to sight loss. But, that is not to say my journey has been without challenges. Instead of facing the realities of vision loss, I had to face my sighted peers’ perception of blindness. I was raised in a family where blindness was simply viewed as a personal characteristic, like hair color or favorite food. It was a shock to find that the majority of the world viewed blindness differently. Many see it as a great limitation, a heavy, shameful burden, and an insurmountable barrier that would affect every aspect of my life.

More Than My Disability

Throughout my teenage years, I struggled to prove that I was just as good, worthy, and capable as my sighted friends and siblings. I battled bullying, an eating disorder, and blind brothers who were arguably better at being blind than me. Failure, I felt would prove everyone right, and success would prove everyone wrong. So I went out of my way to oppose stereotypes because I hated being known as the blind girl. It was important for me to break the mold and to stand out for anything other than my lack of sight. Making a point of wearing makeup, and refusing to wear sunglasses. I made a point of wearing makeup, absolutely refused to wear sunglasses, and I threw myself into my education. My urgent approach to my studies could only be described as obsessive because I wanted to be known as the:

  • A+ student
  • Starbucks-obsessed-freshman
  • chick in the blue shirt

Any title would do, as long as it did not center around my disability.

I can’t recall freedom from the gut-wrenching feeling of failure when someone referred to me as the blind girl. Maybe it faded around the time I connected with cool blind people my age. All I know is, one day the words didn’t make me feel bad anymore. I am a blind girl however I am not ‘the blind girl,’ but maybe to them, I am. The phrase no longer makes me feel less than what I am, it merely reminds someone of who I am. While I know my blindness doesn’t wholly define me, if this characteristic stands out to most people, that’s fine. I know I am more than my disability, and if they get to know me, they will too.

Empowerment Gained Through Acceptance

Today I refuse to wear sunglasses not to prove a point, but because they limit my vision and light perception. I now wear makeup when I feel like it, because it makes me feel good inside. And I achieve in school because I know this will further my career. When I succeed, I am proud of myself but don’t take it as a blind girl win. When I fail, I forgive myself and think of an alternative way to succeed.

I recently graduated with a bachelor of science in food, nutrition, and health from the University of British Columbia. This summer I’m working part-time as a server while scoping out further career options and working on my book series. I’m just your average twenty-something dreamer with a whole life of possibility ahead.

My sight loss journey may never truly be over, but I’m okay with that. I hope it continues to help me become the human I want to be.

Connect with Jenna:

Sight Loss Story Is More Than Meets The Eye Featured Image Description:

Jenna stands at the back of a cruise ship. She wears a deep blue shirt that matches the ocean and sky behind her. Her dark brown hair streams down her back as she smiles serenely at the camera.

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Blind Beauty 72 | Jenna Faris of Safe Space

Blind Beauty 72 | Jenna Farris

Blind Beauty 72 | Jenna Faris of Safe Space

“Most people view blindness as a massive barrier, an insurmountable mountain that can never be climbed. I view blindness as an alternative path, one with perhaps more obstacles, but also more triumph.”

~Jenna Faris
Jenna and Susie on Beach
Jenna and Susie on Beach

My grandmother was a genius when it came to reading people. It was one of many traits she had that I secretly and not so secretly envied. As I got older and remarkably wiser (for a teenager) I would often disagree with her assessments of people. Thankfully, with more advanced years, I continued to gain wisdom and had to admit she was almost always right.

From where I stand today, I think I’ve always had the same ability as my grandmother I just didn’t recognize it. Learning to trust my gut where people are concerned was a process aided by a healthy dose cynicism. In the social media I believe cynicism is a requirement to protect oneself online.

When meeting someone new for the first time, I’m very particular. If a person just messages me a simple one-word greeting I typically delete then block them. While it may sound harsh, this is one of many rules I use to gauge people I choose to interact with. Could I possibly be blocking people who are legitimate? Sure, but with well over 7 billion people on the planet, I simply move on.

A Safe Space

According to Internet Live Stats at the time I wrote this sentence, there were 4,185,806,809 internet users in the world. Skeptic that I am I would need more research to determine if this is a reliable source but I digress. If there is even a remote possibility that these stats are even close to accurate, that’s a lot of people. The world is a huge place and the internet has given us the ability to connect where it wasn’t previously possible. When you add in the speed of information being transmitted by many of these people, well, this is another story.

While I tend to think there is danger lurking around every corner every now and then even I’m pleasantly surprised. Last week, for example, a young lady named Jenna Farris contacted me through our Facebook Page. The way she introduced herself was so outstanding she automatically set herself apart.

Upon visiting her blog Safe Space, I was immediately impressed with her philosophy through her tagline:

“Where everyone is welcome to participate”

When I read her introductory post “This is me ” I was done! Before I go any further I’d like to encourage everyone who reads today’s post to read “This is me.”

Jenna and I exchanged several comments then emails and I’m so honored to introduce you to her. You’ll be hearing more from Jenna as she’s agreed to be a Woman On The Move and I can hardly wait to share her story with you. This young woman is a phenomenal person and one my grandmother would love!

Blind Beauty 72 | Jenna Faris Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. The black & white image of Jenna and her guide dog, Susie sitting on sandstone, are on the cover. Blocks of text superimposed on Jenna’s photo are: “Bold–She Keeps Pressing Onward, Blind–She Has Deeper Insight, Beautiful–She Sees To The Heart Of Others.” “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” “Makeup Trends for 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Look”