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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Perceptions of Me

Another year at deaf-blind camp has come and gone. The whole
experience makes me stop and think. It's not just about the fun
I had and the people I met. Part of it all makes me ponder my
own self.

I want to be better than I am. I go into camp every year
thinking I will show everyone how much I have improved. They
will be so impressed by the way I have grown and changed. I'll
be able to prove to everyone that I am so great and special.

That's my fantasy, anyway. In truth, I always feel as inept as I
ever was. I still struggle with communication. I feel like I
miss more than I actually understand. My balance is so bad that
I lurch around like a drunk when I try to walk. I fall trying to
get in and out of the boat. And i'm so lacking in energy that I
have to go to bed early. Not so impressive, at all.

There are other things to consider, however. I might not be the
amazing person I wish I was, But I certainly have come a long
way. I went to camp for the first time seven years ago. I was
in a wheelchair. People communicated with me by printing letters
on my face. I was terrified about being at camp. It was such a
brave new world for me.

Now I can walk. I may not walk pretty, but I can actually walk.
I can use sign language to communicate with other people who are
deaf-blind. I may still miss some things and need people to
repeat themselves. But I am still doing it.

I can't focus on that fantasy image of who I want to be. I will
probably never be that person. Nothing I ever do will change the
fact that I'm deaf-blind and physically impaired. Nothing I ever
do will change the fact that I am me.

The truth is that I probably did impress people at camp this
year. I probably impressed people seven years ago. It's not
about how well I walk or communicate. It's about the person I am
inside. People see me as a courageous and spirited person.
That's what impresses them.

There's something else. I must remind myself of what really
matters. Why bother trying to impress other people? Who cares
what they think? The only opinion that counts is my own.

Life is all about self-perception. Without a doubt, the hardest
person to impress is one's own self. I will probably never be
completely happy with who I am. I'll always find something about
my self that I need to change... something I need to improve.

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