When you have low vision it isn’t always about just not being able to see things. Sometimes the struggle is in admitting when you can’t see those things and that you need help. I have always been an extremely shy and timid person. The thought of trying to speak out about something I can not see is terrifying. It doesn’t help either that I can tend to be a bit stubborn and don’t always want the assistance of someone else. I prefer to do everything on my own. With these flawed characteristics I often have to work harder than necessary to fight to see small or far away things when I could just admit my shortcomings and ask for help.
This issue is most prominent when I am having trouble in school. I am not exactly the equivalent of a social butterfly so I don’t usually talk much at all. Occasionally when a paper is handed out in class or there are instructions written on a board in the front of the room the print will be too tiny for me to be able to read. When this happens I will get so stressed knowing that I need to ask the teacher or at least a classmate what it says so I do not miss any important information. I clamp up and get so scared I mentally freeze and have no idea what to do. I’ll start to freak out and possibly cry over the stress of the problem. After a while I manage to calm down enough to figure out a solution which is almost always easy and quick. Once it is all over I feel stupid and embarassed for getting so worked up over a tiny little problem that was solved in no time. It just seems so terrifying when it happens because it would be so much easier if I could just see whatever small font or written directions that I needed to.
There was one particular incident in grade school that was probably the worst situation I have had to deal with regarding my eyesight. One of our graded assignments for that week was to identify vocabulary words by their definitions. We had to do this by reading the definitions off of a set of flashcards that the teacher had made and then saying the correct word for the given definition. When it was my turn to go back and complete the assignment I was mentally trying to prepare for having to speak to a teacher. What I wasn’t prepared for was not being able to read the flashcards. When I saw how light the pencil markings were on the cards I choked. For what seemed like the longest time I just stared at the card trying to make out the barely visible words enough to identify what word went with them. I was so scared I could barely breathe. Then the teacher spoke in the snarkiest voice. Can you not see it or do you just not want to talk to me? My breath caught in my throat and my fidgeting hands went still. I couldn’t believe this was happening. In a shaky, small voice I admitted to not being able to see the cards and he rewrote the definitions in pen. I went through the cards as quickly as possible not caring if I got any of them right. Quickly walking back to my seat I held back my tears so that the teacher would not see them fall down my face. I sat in my seat and silently cried until I could compose myself enough to finish my work.
I actually consider myself lucky because this was the only time I felt as if I was being judged for my low vision. No one else had before or since made a comment so harsh to me about my vision loss. To be honest, the experience was not even that bad compared to what some other kids with vision loss go through. It still hurt when it happened, though, and I can’t say that I have forgiven the teacher for the comment they made. Sometimes these things happen especially with my personality and I just have to learn to live with them. That’s just life.