7 Advantages Of Being Visually Impaired

7 Advantages Of Being Visually Impaired

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So I decided to start writing for Odyssey because I thought I could bring a unique perspective to some issues that people tend to be pretty uncomfortable talking about. I’m a visually impaired student at Dartmouth, and while most people know of me as the girl that always seems to tag along with her guide dog, Smidge, or as the girl who has literally run into you trying to maneuver my way around Collis, I tend to feel like a lot of my Dartmouth relationships are rather superficial. Anyone that knows me well would tell you, I am really open to talking about my sight and my experiences.

Disability has such a negative connotation. I’ll be the first person to tell you there are some challenges that come along with being legally blind, but I would be remised to say that it’s all bad. I think it’s important to be able to acknowledge some of the positive aspects of what might usually be considered a not- so- great situation. So here are a few of the advantages that comes with being visually impaired.

1. I always have an excuse to wear mismatched clothes

Half the time I walk out of my dorm looking like an absolute mess! I’m partially color blind so matching clothes isn’t really my strong suit. Whenever people ask me about why my socks don’t match or why I’m wearing an obscure combination of colors, I can always just tell them it’s because I couldn’t tell what I was putting on.

2. I never have to be the designated driver

No one would ever want me behind the wheel of the car so I’ll never have to stay sober and drive my friends home at the end of a night out.

3. I don’t judge people off of how they look

Unlike most people, I actually mean it when I say looks don’t matter. I base my relationships purely off of personality. I usually miss physical features that are immediately obvious for most people, which I think really helps me because I make my first impressions of people solely off of their personalities.

4. I get to bring my dog wherever I go.

Perks of being blind is that I get to take my dog wherever I go. However, my guide dog is very specifically trained to help me safely navigate to wherever I need to be. Fake service dogs are a huge issue and are not in any way okay, but I would be lying to you if I said I don’t love always having my dog with me. She’s my best friend and I know she’s always looking out for me. She gives me independence I never knew before I had a guide dog, and because of that I am so grateful to have her in my life.

5. I don’t need to obey signs if I can’t read them

I usually don’t see signs that are posted up on doors. As far as I’m concerned that means they probably don’t apply to me.

6. I have the greatest most genuine friends in the world

Being legally blind means that sometimes I leave my house with makeup smeared all over my face, or with my bathing suit on inside out, and the fact that I can trust my friends enough to tell me those things and laugh at me for them makes me realize how lucky I am to have those kinds of people in my life

7. I have opportunity I would definitely not have if I could see.

A lot of people know that I am a United States Paralympic Alpine ski racer, but most people don’t realize how much opportunity skiing has given me. Skiing has shape my character in ways that are unparalleled to anything else in my life. In the last year I have traveled to seven different countries and gotten to explore the world with some of my closest friends. All of my teammates come from different backgrounds and walks of life. I have learned to be accepting and understanding of others and to juggle so many different parts of my life all at once. I would be a totally different person if I had full vision and I am so grateful for every opportunity I have been given.

Cover Image Credit: Allison Frantz

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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Sports And Religion

Why are so many athletes religious?

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I recently just made it on to the USC Track and Field team, and it is easily the biggest accomplishment I have ever made in my entire life. I worked so hard to physically and mentally prepare to try out for the team, let alone actually make it. I thank God for allowing me to have the chance to be a part of this team, as well as giving me that physical and mental strength required to do so, and I express this whenever someone congratulates me for making the team or even asks if I made it or not. However, I noticed that when I did this, some of the responses were a bit dismissive when I brought religion into the picture. When I said I thank God for it, I would be met with responses like "Yea well even aside from God..." or another response that drew the conversation away from my faith, away from the concept of a god.

In fact, I've noticed that many athletes are religious in some form-- more so collectively than other student bodies aside from religious groups themselves. I thought about why this may be, aside from the obvious answer such as growing up religious at home, because that does not answer the question; many people grew up in a religious household and are not religious themselves. So, I began to think personally. Why do I thank God for my athletic performance? There's a certain level of uncertainty within every sport. All athletes train their hardest to minimize this level of uncertainty, in order to maximize their chances of success. However, you can only train so hard. To me, no matter how hard you train, there's always some type of level of uncertainty to every level of performance: the chances of you getting injured, the chances of you winning your game or race, the chances of the opponent's performance, etc. This is where I think God intervenes, and perhaps other athletes would agree. There have been countless times where I ran well and had absolutely no idea how I did it. Yes, I worked hard to improve my times, but when you are in the moment of a race, or a game, that fades into the background, especially when everyone else has been working just as hard. It's just you, your race (or game), and God. That's it.

I could have not made the team. As a walk-on, there is more pressure for you to perform since the coaches did not seek you out; you sought them out. You are proving your abilities. Thus, I was nervous about my chances of actually making the team, especially considering the fact that the USC track team is arguably the best collegiate track team in the United States. I performed well during my try out and finished all the workouts, however I wasn't as fast as the other girls. In addition, I was 3 minutes late to my last day of tryouts and got chewed out by the coach for it. I was convinced that I blew my chances. And yet, somehow, I made it. I worked so hard for it, yes, but I thank God for keeping my body healthy so I could train to the best of my ability. I thank Him for allowing the coaches to have the time to try me out. I thank Him for allowing them to see my potential. I thank Him for giving me the best high school track coach possible who prepared me mentally and physically, as well as supported me throughout all the highs and all the lows. I thank Him for giving me this chance to continue my track career at the most prestigious collegiate team. My gratitude for all this, is simply infinite.

There is good reason why many athletes are religious; being an athlete requires you to be more than yourself. It requires you to dig deeper, into places that you didn't even think were possible, and really aren't without the belief of a higher power. The belief in a higher power, in whatever form or name that takes, means the belief in infinite possibility. And for an athlete to have that, means nothing can stop them from chasing their dreams.

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