Am I visually impaired, or disabled, or worldless (sightless)? One lack itself should not characterise. Those words we say about ourselves also have weight, not only those which we hear from others. We edit Ádám Balogh’s article on the occasion of the international day of white stick, 15th October, in the month of the sight. Ádám is the psychologist colleague of the Baráthegyi Guide Dog School. He lives in Miskolc with his wife and his guide dog Oktáv.
A frequent thought often comes up, I wonder how much we are aware of the importance of the word we say. Should I feel myself as a visually impaired person whose sight is damaged, or should I say I am blind? Perhaps disabled or a person living with disability and should I emphasize that when I characterize myself? Those seems to be words; however, we integrate them, give them meaning in relation to our own life. Even the word, worldless, when I hear it from another person, then I tend to think, that I do not have the same world as the others have. I need to create one in which I can live or someone else might create it for me. If I characterize myself with such word, then I may be disappointed, little bit hopeless. Although, whichever word it is, which we integrate to our personality, we form them on our own.
It is important, that how I think about myself, which feelings and words appears in me if I want to describe myself. We can take a step back at this point, and can really wonder if I am healthy then. As a visually impaired person, can I say I am a healthy man, or I am considered as a sick person. If we only look the sight itself, then I really start a disadvantage compared to others, however, this lack cannot be characterize by itself.
I can look at my life, my relationships, my abilities from many perspectives. I feel that this dilemma is becoming more and more common in today’s world. We are running, working, organising our everyday life and we describe our life, ourselves, based on only a few points. We create an imaginary list and continuously ticking off the tasks and feelings. If we experience a lack somewhere, then we put everything on this only point, and judge ourselves based on it. This can be our body, our appearance. It can be that what clothes we wear, what items we buy. How much we moved that day, or even did not move that day, or how much we eat, what diet we should follow according to others.
We can load our self-image with a great number of questions, analogy, expectations, and at the same time, we do not prioritize some deeper thoughts which are “behind” the list. I am healthy, even being visually impaired, because I am able to make decision on my own, think about problems, take responsibility for my actions. I can feel, show my feelings properly and recognize them in others. I can establish relationships, I am able to develop in them, or help the other. I can see if I make a mistake, I am able to ask for help, and realise what I need. I have both, virtues and vice.
I think we need to see that it’s not only the surface that matters. Sometimes, if we look deeper, we see aspects that feel good to identify with. Those which help, give strength and security. Let’s understand that words have weight. Those words as well which we tell ourselves, not only those which we hear from others. We can decide what has value for us and what is emphasized in our lives.
Ádám Balogh is leading the “Christmas Angels” project, in which the supporters of the Baráthegyi Guide Dog School, give presents to children living with visual impairments, children of parents with visual impairment and children living in disadvantaged circumstances.