Have you ever noticed how our expectations affect so many things in life? What do you expect of others? Your answer probably depends on a combination of your upbringing and your personality.
Inevitably, I will greet someone new, only to hear this response, “I’m sorry,” they say while patting my hand and letting out a sigh.
“Sorry about what?” I think to myself, before my brain processes the reason. “Oh, yeah, I’m blind,” I conclude.
Realizing they have pity on me, I quickly try to comfort them. “It’s alright,” before attempting to overcompensate by listing off all I do, like a fool full of pride. In my mind, I’m wanting them to realize blindness is a mere inconvenience to me, but doesn’t keep me from being happy.
This illustrates how few expectations most people have of the blind or visually impaired. When I received my diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, it appeared most people expected me to give up, sit in a rocking chair and grow old, depending on others for everything except my breath.
That’s not even the irony of the situation, though. Continuing on in conversation I hear the person speak of not being able to do anything all week because of a migraine, suffering from the flu or allergies. Then, walking over to a splendid buffet, I learn they are diabetic. We all live with something. The memory also goes as we get older. What did I just say? Oh, yes, we all live with something.
Do we expect conditions only seen at a glance to be tragic? The way I see it, those I visit with suffer as much or more than I do. I’ve never had an ear ache, don’t have allergies, arthritis, headaches, or achy bones. I haven’t had cancer, kidney stones, or knee surgeries. The list could go on and on.
Our focus should possibly change from realizing outwardly differences may or may not be a handicap, the same way what you live with may or may not be a handicap. To me, the true tragedy is what’s inside many…broken hearts. How many individuals walk around with emotional scars from molestations, rapes, crime, verbal and/or physical abuse, broken relationships, divorce of parents or your own, loss of a loved one, or coping with feelings of inferiority and insecurity? They are held in bondage of a different sort than me. It’s just not visible at first glance.
Let’s try to remember not to assume too much based upon our expectations of outward appearances for WE ALL LIVE WITH SOMETHING. We’re all different, but we’re people first. It’s impossible to know at a glance if what “disadvantage” a person is living with is a handicap to them, or not.
Even knowing this, I still catch myself feeling sorry for others. Do you find yourself doing the same? If so, what do you think we could focus on to change our thinking?