I began Albinism Up Close ten years ago while I was in school. I wanted an outlet back then to write creatively and share my experiences. In 2019, I bought my domain and began committing more time to this project. It has become much more than an outlet for me. I hope you can learn from my journey. If you’d like to know more about Albinism Up Close, visit my About page.
In the last post, I wrote about Coming Out as Blind and shared my experiences of feeling trapped between the normally sighted and blind communities. I set some unnecessary barriers for myself and learned some hard lessons over the years. I started that post long before I ever found the courage to write it. Here, I’ll explain why.
My Worst Fears
Putting your truth into the universe is one of the hardest things a person can do. It is terrifying for a multitude of reasons. But it is also incredibly cathartic. Sharing my truth has done wonders for helping me embrace that truth and accept myself, strengths and flaws.
I also keep reminding myself along this journey that one more voice speaking up and creating awareness is a good thing for all of us. I do not speak for every person with albinism or every person with a visual impairment, but I speak for me. That is enough.
Being a Fake
Oh imposter syndrome, we meet again. I’ve felt very much like a fake throughout grad school and again when starting this journey. I’ve come to believe that everyone feels like an imposter at some point in his or her life.
For me and this project, I worry that old acquaintances or friends will discover my writings and believe my blindness is not as severe as it is. I did not grow up in the blind community. I went to public school, and I used minimal aids and tools. Despite that fact, I did very well in school. School has always come easy to me. On the other hand, I struggle with some social interactions: identifying a friend in a crowded room, making eye contact, reading facial expressions and body language, etc.
Worrying about being called a fake has also lead to a lack of confidence in using a white cane, despite how much it helps me when I do.
“Haters gonna hate.” Eh? As soon as you post on the internet, you’re fair game for trolls. People will undoubtedly accuse me of lying, of faking, or of some other ridiculous self-serving behavior. Sure, I’d love to make money writing this blog and other projects. WIll I ever get there? I’m not sure, honestly.
I used to be terrified of opening messages from strangers. Since getting some rather ridiculous messages over the past few months, my fear has all but disappeared. I’m thankful for that!
I vow to keep my posts genuine and honest. That vow means everything to me, because so many on social media are disingenuous or really just out for the attention (and the fame and money that brings). I respect that as a business decision, but I don’t respect it as an optimist who still believes that being genuine is more important than being famous.
Rejected by my Own Community
This happens all the time. Group mentality is a beast. You create something or achieve something, and it is very possible that your own community can perceive you as a threat to its own name. Molly Burke (who I love!) spoke about this issue in one of her videos. She says the members of a guide dog or visually impaired group did not approve of her career choice, so they kicked her out of the group and blocked her. This can be absolutely heartbreaking if you’ve found a place that made you feel less alone. To be rejected by YOUR OWN PEOPLE is devastating. It is one of my fears for that very reason.
As I stated above, I absolutely do not and cannot speak for the entire albinism or visually impaired communities. I will never claim to speak for all of them. The albinism community alone is so varied. I am always very open in my blog posts here and my Instagram posts about welcoming the opinions and experiences of others. Hearing other opinions truly brings me joy, because I enjoy learning new things and meeting new people (even though I’m such an introvert).
My Future Employers are Here
This fear could fill up an entire post. We are all just everyday people looking for a job like anyone else. Our search may be a bit more complicated and we may have a few unique challenges, but we as a community are extremely capable yet some of us do struggle to find work. Based on research from The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 44% of the blind and visually impaired population are employed, and 10% within the labor force are unemployed. Forty-four percent is a huge chunk. It’s certainly nowhere near numbers among those who are not blind or visually impaired, but a huge portion of this population qualifies for disability and may not be seeking employment.
Having said all that, the visually impaired community is certainly capable. Many of us are used to working among the sighted world and require little to no special accommodations. Why would we apply for a job we know we can’t perform? If you’re an employer reading this, I hope you take those numbers into consideration when interviewing a person with a visual impairment. Knowing them, I feel the tiniest bit more confident in my own job search. If only I lived in an area with public transit! That’s my own biggest struggle right now.
No One Cares
My last fear was that no one would read my writing or no one would care. This is probably a thought that all writers have at some point in their lives. We’ve all wondered if our art, our hard work, or our passion would matter to anyone but us. Art, writing, and even information are all meant to be shared with the world. If we can’t share these things, who are we to become?
I’m so pleased at receiving the positive responses that I have from my writings, albeit a small response for now. It truly means the world to me when someone tells me they’ve found my writing helpful, insightful, well-written, etc.
Thank you as always. Stay curious.