In my experience, people tend to view blind and capable as two mutually exclusive concepts. I live to disprove that notion. I live to be someone who transcends the expectation, someone who removes the qualifier. I am not good at what I do “for a blind girl,” I am simply good at what I do by any standard. I am willing to work harder, cultivate focus, and do whatever it takes to live to my full potential.
I’ve been blind since 1994. I can’t see my hand at the end of my arm. Even the people I am around daily don’t always realize how little I see. I have a 6-degree tunnel of light, dark, and motion. If you’re moving around I’ll probably get you, but if you’re standing still, I’ll miss you every time (this is why I really hate hanging plants). And while I am able to perceive if a light is on or off, I cannot identify its origin, brightness, or color—only that it is on or off.
When people meet me for the first time, they often ask me why I carry a white cane meant for the blind when I’m able to see. If you were to encounter me randomly on the street or in a store or office, chances are you would assume that I could see as well as anyone else. None of my behaviors would lead you to believe otherwise. I don’t rock back and forth. I don’t stumble into things with my arms outstretched. I don’t have a guide. I don’t fit any of the social expectations of a person with blindness. The truth is that I carry a white cane because I am unable to see—I am blind—and when people figure that out, they’re often surprised. Why? Because I’m confident, together, and self-composed.
Blindness has certainly made accomplishing my goals more challenging, but I have never been stopped by my blindness. I hope to serve as an example of overcoming the common self-doubts that we all experience. I hope to serve as an example of defying learned helplessness in order to fulfill potential. And most important, I hope to serve as an example of the true power of goal attainment that is generated when you are being true to yourself in spite of any circumstance that might stand in your way.