One of the most difficult things about living with a rare disease is feeling as though you are defined by your disability. It can seep into every aspect of your life: from getting special treatment at school or work, to not being able to easily get around on your own. At the ADOA Association, we focus on community building and making sure no one ever feels alone. But it’s just as important to remember that we are not defined by ADOA or vision loss. We are all unique individuals and our differences are what make us special. Those differences deserve to be celebrated.
There are multiple organizations that have put together the tools and resources for both those actively involved in the low vision community, as well as individuals who may not know how to speak to or about people with disabilities. VisionAware is one such organization; they have a series on disability pride and culture that is particularly inspiring. One truth is common among all resources: that in order to celebrate our uniqueness and speak openly about disabilities, we must first embrace our individuality.
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde
Embracing individuality is about acceptance. Accepting not only our favorite parts of ourselves, but also our least favorite parts - and knowing that they equally make us who we are. Living with low vision may be frustrating at times, but it’s just one part of a complex, unique person. It gives you a new viewpoint and tools that others may not have. In short, we need to take the highs with the lows in all aspects of our lives. Together in our ADOA community, we can help one another learn to accept the things we cannot change and find the positives even when it may seem impossible. When one person embraces and displays their individuality, it can spark change and motivation for others to do the same.
Another important part of embracing individuality is understanding that everyone has different perspectives and preferences. It may be difficult to relate to someone if you don’t believe you have anything in common with them. And even if you are similar, the way you speak about yourself or your loved ones may not resonate with them. It’s crucial that we take the time to truly get to know one another, and understand each other’s likes and dislikes, in order to be able to communicate more openly and without judgement. Honest communication, and a deeper understanding of each other, will also help us find the special things about each other that lift us up and bring us together.
Embracing our individuality is a process. Some days, you wake up beaming confidence. Other days, we need to lean on those around us a little bit more than we’d like. But no matter what, the most important thing to remember is that every one of us is exceptional in our own way. And despite the difficulties we may face in our lives, we are never alone.
Let us know how YOU embrace your individuality by sending us a picture or your story today!