by Holly Turri
In many ways the concept of independence makes me uncomfortable. Living on our own, marrying, having children, obtaining a meaningful career, and becoming active in our community are goals for which I have always strived. Through hard work, stubbornness, and God’s blessings I’ve achieved many of these.
See if you relate to the following statements. “You can’t have kids.” “It’s nice they gave you that job.” “No blind person can do …” and the ever popular “I’m assuming you will be marrying someone who is blind.” To me, these clichés are opinions, not facts.
Well, I was the youngest. My brother was and is a classified genius. It was always made clear to me that I was “just average.” Instead of discouraging me, this opinion made me more determined. I figured most of life’s challenges are done by the golden mean. Therefore, I could succeed just fine.
Sadly, it often appears to me that independence is viewed by some as an excuse to feel that asking for assistance is wrong. Appearing to be perfect at all costs is how success and achievement are viewed by these individuals.
When I was a college freshman, I nearly succumbed to a nervous breakdown. I thought that if I ever got mad, made a mistake, or showed anything but a happy face, I was letting down the millions of blind people in America. After all, I might be the only one some people might meet. If I didn’t look in control and well dressed, all of you would suffer.
My then-boyfriend suggested I might want to talk to someone about my unrealistic expectations. So, I visited the college counseling department. The woman with whom I met for several months mentioned that she liked the term “interdependent” much better.
She said that an oak tree is strong and usually stands alone. It is the king of the forest. The lowly willow lives in thickets by running water. Its branches intertwine with others of its kind. When the stormy winds howl, often the oak will fall. It is not flexible enough to stand the battering. On the other hand, the willow will sway with its friends and stay intact. After the storm it may be battered, but it is usually not beaten.
So it is with ACB. We all work together toward common goals. Through our strength in numbers and our interdependence great things have happened. Look at the ADA, video description, and a myriad of other accomplishments. Those lonely old oaks may look great, but what do they really do?