How many times have you been told to stand out in the crowd, to shine brighter than the stars, to make sure you’re remembered? Being the only blindy most people ever meet makes me difficult to forget. My white cane/reflective guide dog harness doesn’t exactly shine brighter than the stars but it tries. I stand out in the crowd because not many other people can stroll into a bank or a five-star restaurant with a sixty pound lab in tow.
All kidding aside, there is immense beauty in being different. How boring would the world be if everyone was the same race, the same sexual orientation, had the same gifts and problems, and wore the same clothes? How pointless life would be if everyone thought the same things and reacted the same way. People are not supposed to act like an army of robots. We are all different, each one of us unique. Some people’s differences are just a little more visible than others.
While it is not always the most flattering thing to be known as the blind girl in class or the lady with the dog, I am, almost always, known. My blindness used to make me feel small and invisible, until the day I realized my disability was what made me seen. It gave me a voice and a unique prospective no one could take away. As a blind teenager, I was painfully aware of everything that set me apart from my sighted peers. Now, as a blind twenty-something, I am gratefully conscious of all the beauty my differences have allowed me to see. I used to want to be just like everyone else, but now I am disconcerted by the thought. I used to struggle to distance myself from my disability, now I welcome discussion about it.
Being visibly different has given me the opportunity to display my uniqueness and be proud of it. More importantly, it has shown me the beauty in other’s differences. Each individual has something unique to offer the world; why should characteristics like ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or perceived ability be viewed as a drawback or a problem? Diversity and inclusion aren’t just words or values, they are strengths. Multiple studies have proven that the more diversity within a team, the better their results. Why shouldn’t the same thing be true within society? Why shouldn’t the same thing be true of you. The more people you interact with, accept, and learn from, the better off you will be. The more you accept and learn about yourself, the more unique you will be.
Every person alive has their own prospective, their own story. Whether diverging from the norm involves not wearing makeup, sticking to your faith, or telling others of your LGBTQ2+ standing, be proud of what makes you different, because that is what makes you, you. No one else has lived your life, and no one else will think your thoughts. What if you have an amazing idea or a life-altering ambition, but you ignore it because you are too busy trying to be like everyone else? No one is able to be uniquely different like you, because they’re busy being different like them. Be different. Be unique. Be you and embrace the beauty in everything that makes you different.
Be kind, and be aware.
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