At nine years of age, I was going to a summer camp and having lots of fun. One day we to an outdoor swimming pool, and I just laughed it up, splashing and maneuvering my around.
It wasn’t until I got home that night that I noticed I had huge sun burns all over my body. The next day, two huge blisters an inch tall each, materialized on my shoulders. I was in excruciating pain, and I couldn’t even lean back or go to sleep for several days. I would be peeling off layers of my skin for months to come.
That was the day I realized what it means to be an albino.
For each albino, the degree of pigmentation loss (skin/hair) and the degree of blindness varies. It’s also difficult to understand partial sight, especially as we are discovering it for ourselves as a child.
Not being able to read books or see the blackboard in school became obvious barriers of daily living. More subtlety, as I grew through adolescence, I realized I couldn’t recognize people, nor communicate with them visually. Not being able to see all the meal options at fast food restaurants was annoying. It was sad not to be able to drive a car like my peers, which became an obstacle to many career options I had wanted to pursue.
As I applied the law of attraction and focused on other positive aspects of my life, I would soon realize there was a whole lot of other stuff I was not seeing. For example, there are the thousands of street advertisements (highways, buildings, public transit) I do not get to see. Even in print media and television around us everywhere, I don’t see the product placement or subliminal messages. Over the years, this has kept my mind from distractions and social conditioning. It has also given me the mental time to think about so many other things of my own conscious choosing.
Because of our unique and distinct look, everyone recognizes us immediately, and strangers stare at us constantly. It was difficult to hide or to do anything discretely. I thought this was great – I can be who I am, totally authentic and transparent, and not pretend to be someone I’m not.
While those traits are important, over time I’ve learned how social conformity and mass appeal can also affect connecting with people. Being fashion conscious, although superficial, has made a huge difference for me. As one of my best friends said to me, I could be the most beautiful person in the world, speaking the ultimate words of wisdom and genius--but if there’s something stuck in the middle of my teeth, that’s what everybody will see and focus on.
There were so many points of danger, poverty, and abuse throughout my childhood, that I just had to block all of that out in order to survive in this world. I had to visualize myself living a functional and fulfilling life before it would manifest. And that can take years of practice and discipline, until you realize that you are living the life of your dreams.
It’s interesting, however, to meet strangers who are so quickly inspired by me and tell me how much courage I have. I feel that I didn’t have any other choice. What else was I going to do with my life? To remain cynical and passive throughout my life would have taken a lot more courage to experience that nightmare.
Wherever you are, you’ve made it. You’re here. I’m proud of you for being here. The circumstances, whatever they are, they are. You’re still standing. And I bet, even smiling every now and again. :)
Let’s love the world together...
[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary
P.S. I didn’t spell out the “life lessons” because I think different people can extract different lessons from the stories shared. What life lessons did you get?