Dear 13-year-old D,
This is 27-year-old D, I thought about you today when I met with another young lady who reminded me a whole lot of teenage D. So bare with me, here are just a few things I want to tell you, things I’ve learned since I got old, things that I wish I could go back and let you know about!
1. I’m sorry! Junior High is so sucky sometimes, it’s a hard time in life…one of the hardest I remember, hang in there, it gets SO much better.
2. Kids are mean, kids are judgmental, kids tease and act like they know EVERYTHING. Well, let me tell you something, they know nothing! You will learn that these kids that think they know it all will have the biggest reality check shortly down the road.
3. You are worried sick about the whole blindness/vision loss thing, that’s to be expected, but do what’s easiest for you, don’t spend 20 hours a week on homework that could only take you 5, you’ll miss out on a lot if you do this.
4. Braille, those dots your VI teacher are trying to teach you will change your life! If you don’t learn them now you will miss out on some great books that your friends will read and talk about and love and you will wish you could join in the conversation.
5. Most people (like 99.9 percent) think Braille is awesome, not nerdy or stupid or weird. Just so you know!
6. You should take the time and learn Braille because if you don’t, you won’t read your first book until your 23 and once you read your first book you will look back with tears in your eyes wishing you had learned it back in Junior High…or much earlier.
7. Blindness (or visual impairment as you call it) will not ruin your life. In fact, you will grow to be more like the person you are meant to be if you learn the skills and face it head on.
8. You will have friends that judge you or criticize you for reading Braille or using a cane but you should know, these people aren’t your friends. If you use Braille and use a cane and you have only ONE person in your life who supports you, that person will be there forever and will provide more love and support than 40 friends…I promise!
9. Carrying a cane does not make you look weird and stand out! Shuffling around, staring at the ground and tripping down stairs make you look weirder, seriously.
10. You may think you want to hide your blindness because it makes you different, well let me break it to you. Most of your friends already know you’re blind. When you press your face to the textbook, shuffle your feet in the halls and avoid a variety of activities, you make it quite obvious. They already know, trust me on this!
11. If you start now, learn Braille, use a cane, work hard and study, you will find out that you can become a pretty sensational person and you will begin to love yourself much sooner…and it’s so worth it.
12. Try to stop caring about what others think so much,, most of the time they aren’t even thinking about you and if they are it’s usually not what your think they’re thinking. They may just be wishing they were more like you…like you think about some of your friends. It’s highly likely.
13. And lastly, you know those big dreams you have tucked away in your head, those ones that you doubt yourself about every day. Most of them become your reality so don’t give up on them.
So teenage D, do your best to take this advice because you will see that it’s true and that life gets so much better after Junior High.