Sometimes I love being blind, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t imagine my life with sight simply because I’ve never had it . Sometimes I do have sight in my dreams because my subconscious realizes that at one point, I could see. However, those visions, or whatever I want to call them, tend to trickle through my brain before I can really capture them. It’s too bad, really. But my imagination is so much more inventive.
So are there really perks to being blind — besides the societal and governmental advantages? Yes, yes there are. Please keep in mind that I am only one person, and I do not represent the voice of the entire blind/visually impaired community. What might be an advantage to me is a disadvantage for someone else, so take everything I’m about to write with a grain of salt. That being said . . .
1. I have to constantly be on top of things if I want to succeed.
For example, I have to chat with my college professors at least once and request accommodations (if I need them). The advantage of this is that I am actually forced to get things done, and since other people are involved in seeing me succeed, I’m less likely to put something off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve considered skipping class, but I don’t because my professor sends me stuff in advance. Extra effort on my behalf guilts me in to doing my best. It’s a great strategy, especially if one is going through undergrad burnout.
2. I cannot rely on visuals.
We live in a world where most people are extremely dependent on sight. I feel like a lot of the pedagogical strategies are shifting towards visual learning these days, and it kind of makes me sad.
For example, I was once studying to be a classically trained vocalist, and I’m currently a language major in my last year of undergrad. Both of these fields can be extremely visual. When I was first learning basic vocal technique, my wonderful vocal coach could not rely on diagrams to communicate the idea of breathing properly to me. Therefore, she had to be creative and talk me through forcing my body to do some strange things so that I could feel what my diaphragm was supposed to do. In her words, “teaching [me] how to sing was an ‘intimate’ process . . . and very beneficial” because I learned breathing techniques more quickly and more thoroughly. I got to really know my body, and I learned that I was using muscles I didn’t even know I had to strengthen my core.
Similarly, in regards to my language learning, I couldn’t learn vocabulary via images; I had to really put in the effort of using it in context. I also couldn’t binge watch telenovelas because subtitles are not easy to acquire in text form. As a result, I had to improve my listening comprehension the hard way: lots of trial and error and scripted radio transcripts. Thank god for scripted radio transcripts!
Fun fact: Wandering Spain by yourself and trying to understand the metro system is not fun if you’re not speaking with people who are trained/patient enough to converse with non-native speakers. But I was pretty persistent and probably really annoying at first because I had to ask for clarification several times since they couldn’t just show me the colored lines that I should take from Barcelona Sants. #sorrynotsorry
3. I can’t always give in to my sugar cravings.
Since my shopping assistant has to help me grab the things I want, I always feel in check to not pass by the ice cream. Brilliant.
4. Bording a plane
I’ve seen people stress out about making their gate in time. I distinctly remember these guys telling me that they almost missed their flight from Madrid to Toronto because they misread their flight information. Luckily for me and my anxiety, airport employees take care of all those small details for me. It’s great because I’m a pretty anxious person, and it’s one less thing to worry about.
5. I will never be the designated driver.
… and nobody can say a word about it. I’ve tried talking people in to letting me drive their car. It hasn’t worked…. yet.
Being blind is really scary sometimes, especially when you’re not paying attention to your surroundings like you should be or if you get swept up in peer pressure bullshit and let everyone around you implicitly convince you that you’re never doing enough…. Sorry, personal rant, but I digress… I am not saying that everyone should give it a try. If I had vision, I’d probably hate it. But I’ve learned to stop lurking in the shadows. I still run into shit, but I’ve learned to laugh about it and accept that this will happen. But for me, it’s all about experiencing the world from a different perspective. Sometimes that perspective is dark and murky, but sometimes it is beautiful.