It seems like forever since I’ve written to you guys, because I wrote yesterday’s post on Tuesday, and posted it up here yesterday morning. It’s now Thursday evening, and so technically I’ve not written to you guys since Tuesday afternoon – too long a break, I feel.
Just a quick sidenote: is it just me who, when blogging, feels like they’re talking to a load of friends, like they’re telling a story when they write a post?
Because I do…
May I please just turn your attention to one quick thing before I get started on this post?
today, on Thursday 14 april 2016, this blog of mine reached the rather nice milestone of 250 followers. I mean, I now have 251, but let me just take this in. Over a quarter-of-a-thousand people across the GLOBE are reading what I, one individual, have to say. That is incredible. Seriously, I mean it. I’m literally crying right now because I love you guys so much and you seriously mean the world to me and just thank you thank you thank you.
Thank you for being you.
thank you for reading.
Thank you for helping.
Thank you for writing.
And now, onto what I want to talk about today.
For those of you who are new to reading my blog, first of all hello to you, and second of all, i’m blind. That’s just a little bit of information about me, but it’s relevant to today’s post.
Blindness is considered a disability – I have no eyesight, which I suppose technically is a disability: I’m not able to see. Personally, I don’t see [blind joke] myself as disabled, for the pure and simple reason that i’m perfectly able to do most things in life just fine, aside from the obvious, like driving on the road, or operating heavy machinery independently, although even these aren’t completely impossible. Regardless, according to society and to law, I’m disabled, no questions asked.
This perspective, however I choose to classify myself, gives me a lot of insight into the way that disabled people, particularly visually impaired people, are considered and treated within society today, and I feel that I’m in the perfect position to write about that from time to time: I feel it’s important that other people, especially the current generation of teenagers, can understand where this generation of adults, politicians and leading social figures have gone wrong, so that things can improve 10, 20, 30 years into the future.
and so, here is what I want to know: why is it, by being disabled, that if I don’t succeed with wild success, I am considered to have failed? Why is it that if a budding journalist who happens to be in a wheelchair doesn’t become world-famous, they, in society’s eyes, have failed? If that same budding journalist were to not be in a wheelchair and they became a reporter at the local newspaper, would they be seen as a failure? of course not: it’s still a good job – a fabulous job if it’s what that individual wants for themselves.
This ridiculous amount of pressure is not easy to deal with, let me tell you that. In my case, people expect me to be head and shoulders above everyone else in my sighted social group. I’m expected to do all these great things: achieve A* grades in exams, be talented at the arts, be a well-rounded person, and so on and so forth. If I’m not 100% brilliant at each and every one of these things, plus anything else that life throws my way, I will be considered to have failed.
So tell me, is this not wrong? Is it not wrong that i’m expected to be better than billions of other people, just because my eyes aren’t working? Is it not wrong that I’m put under pressure to be above everybody else, when I’m perfectly happy being on the same level as them?
I recognise personally that if I don’t meet these high expectations that I’m not a failure, and I can’t stress how much I mean this when I say that if you’re in similar circumstances to me in this situation, you should NEVER consider yourself a failure. they’re right when they say that failure isn’t an option, but they don’t realise it. Failure isn’t an option, not because it’s bad to fail, but because it’s impossible, because there is no such thing as failure: it’s called learning; it’s called experience; it’s called being human.
Although I recognise on a personal level that I’m not, and never will be, a failure, I’m aware that there are hundreds of thousands of social ‘underdogs’ who will let expectations and pressure get to them, and allow it to beat them down. Regardless, pressure isn’t right, even if you can shake It Off [TayTay reference]; it’s not fair, for want of a more expressive and emotive word.
On top of being put under extra, unnecessary pressure dueto having a disability, there is then the extra pressure. As if doing well isn’t enough to satiffy society’s expectations, there’s then the pressure to change things. However big-headed it sounds [and it really does], I’m doing reasonably well in school and in life, and I’m proud, and allowed to be proud, of that fact. But it’s at this point that the added expectations begin:
“You should stand up for disabled teenagers”…
“You should make your views more heard”…
“You should make yourself an example for younger disabled people to look up to”…
Again, ohis is all very big-headed, and self-complimentary, but it’w what people say to me on a not-so-irregular basis. In all seriousness, how much more can I do? How much further can they push me until I break? Because pressure breaks people you know; I know that first-hand.
And so, I can’t help but think that it’s no longer a game of if-things-get-too-much, but more of when-they-get-too-much.
so until then, I guess I’m playing a waiting game with my mental health.