The struggle to “find ourselves” is one that everyone seems to have. We all go through a variety of life stages that force us to determine who we are and what we will then do with our lives. But, after you go through sight loss, these questions can be more difficult to answer. Will you still do what you always have? What is your role now? Can you still serve the same purpose? Today, we'll address all these questions and more as we look as finding identity after sight loss!
News & Updates
In Norwich, England, a group of bus drivers went through training where they were blindfolded in order to learn how to assist blind and visually impaired passengers. They were taught how to better help a VIP when using the bus and to make the audio announcements more useful. This is a great step by this bus company as they do their best to help every passenger, not just those with sight.
A new photo app for iOS (iPhone or iPad) called FotoOto takes steps to help visually impaired people with photos and sharing. The app is pretty basic. You either take a photo or import one from the camera roll. The app processes the photo and then gives you a read out in text form of what's in the picture. This is somewhat accurate with obvious limitations. Then, you can add your own audio commentary or ambient sound lasting 10 seconds. At the end, it adds some music on top that match the colors founding the photo. You can share it out as well. It's a neat idea and may have some real world use as it gets even better. Only time will tell!
Many blind and visually impaired people can have issues going to sleep. This can happen especially after you first lose your sight. Your rhythms can get thrown off and you can lie awake all night. A recent article I read gave some examples of things not to do if you want to go to sleep. Some examples were not to have a snack, not to turn on the TV and avoid lying in bed for hours at t time. These along with the other recommendations, are really good advice. Rest is important, so check out the full article for more details!
The Search for Identity
We are all looking for “who we are” in this world. We look for it is activities we do, talents we have, things that we learn and people we are in relationship with. It seems to be a like long search as we are always growing and maturing. However, sight loss can throw a real wrench into this search. Many times, we can feel great about our position and purpose in life and then lose our sight, causing us to question everything we thought we knew about ourselves.
Today, I want to present three questions that you can ask yourself to start the conversation of finding who you are. These questions need to be answered in a specific way and in a specific order.
Before I Begin…
Before I jump into all of this, let me make something clear. Your blindness is not your identity. You are not simple dumbed down to being just a “blind person.” There's nothing wrong with being a blind or visually impaired person. However, when you were sighted, you did not identify as a “sighted person', right? So, why do we define ourselves by our visual acuity now? Just remember that as we move forward!
1. Whose Am I? – The Question of Belonging
From early childhood, we all want to belong to something. We want to be a part of a group we we feel secure. This starts with family and breaks off into peer groups as well. We must be assured of where we belong. It is foundational in our understanding of who we are.
Sight loss can cause us to think that we no longer belong to a certain group. For example, you may identify yourself with a group of friends who goes to a local sporting event every week. You laugh, talk, share and so froth. You feel safe in this group and feel that you bring something to it. But, once you suffer sight loss, you may feel awkward at these events. You can no longer bring what you always have to the group….at least in your mind.
This is just one example. It can apply to family, friends, community, etc. You must determine where you belong and where you are most safe. So, ask yourself, “Whose Am I?”
2. Who Am I? – The Question of Identity
Once you determine where you belong, you can begin to figure out who you are at your core. Understand that this is not your job or career. No, this is who you have been since you were born. You know, who you were “created” to be. (Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, we all have purpose, which we will get into in a moment.)
A good way to answer this is to determine what you would do regardless of your job. If you were working at McDonald's or at a hospital, how would the person that you are shine forth. Maybe try to answer this with a one word answer. For me, I usually say “connector.” I am a person who connects people. To each other. To emotions. To fill in the blank. That is who I am, regardless of my job title.
We all have this in us. It just might take some time to figure out.
3. What Do I Do? – The Question of Purpose
So now we come to the question most people start with. And, the question that most people who suffer sight loss struggle with. What am I going to do now? What purpose do I serve? This is a harder one to answer in some way, as sight loss can be limiting. But, let's look at an example:
Say you drove a truck. Clearly, that's not happening after sight loss. So, what do you do now? Without the first two answers, it can seem like your purpose is over. But, the reality is your purpose wasn't to be a truck driver. Your purpose may have been fulfilled in that role, but the role wasn't the purpose. See where I'm going with this?
Basically, this question is how your identity is carried out. It may be at a specific job. It might your role at home. It might be starting a podcast for people to listen to. The role isn't important, but the purpose is.
I have had a number of people ask these questions of themselves. Even sighted people who are going through identity crisis. But, for visually impaired people, the thing I've noticed is this: Many times, the answers to the first two questions hasn't changed. They still being where they always have and who they are, at their core, remains in tact. It is that third question where they get tripped up. But, most of the time, they are so focused on that that they can't see they need to back up to move forward.
If you are a parent of a child, that hasn't changed. You still hold a vital place in that family unit. You still are who you are at your core. And, your purpose as a parent reminds in tact. That being said, you might have do things a little differently, but all those answers are the same as they were pre sight loss.
If you hold a job that is sight intensive, you may worry that you will lose it. This fear is multiplied because of the value we place on our jobs to give us identity. But, our purpose doesn't give us identity. Our identity gives us purpose. Even if that jobs goes away, you can get another one. It will be hard and their will be sadness to follow. But, at the end of the day, you still have purpose because you always can know who you are, regardless of what you do.
Real Life Retweet
You have your identity when you find out not what you can keep your mind on but what you can't keep your mind off. -A. R. Ammons
On this edition of “After Hours”, I personally answer the three questions presented in this episode to give you an idea of how it might work. Just sign up below to get instant access to this FREE bonus content!