Students Group - Fine Work (Japan)
Yuki Chiyoya (18, 3rd grade, General Course, High School Division, Aomori Prefectural School for the Blind, male)
I suddenly became a star, although ephemerally, in the classroom when we had a lesson jointly with local elementary school students as an exchange class event. I was just taking a note using braille characters, but that attracted the attention of the elementary school children. They came closer around me and asked many questions, while letting out "Wow" or "Great." But almost all their questions were about braille characters and dots, and almost none about my personal things such as hobby.
The center of the attention was supposed to be me, but not for them.... I was just longing for the word "ordinary." I completely believed at least my life in the school for the blind was that of an ordinary kind.
When I was a junior high school student of the school for the blind, not many of my friends or seniors in the high school division were totally blind like me. During the breaks between classes, many students, either from junior high or high school division, gathered and merrily and excitedly talked about various topics including music, manga comics or fashion. That I couldn't follow. Isn't it natural because I can't read magazines and comics, and how can I talk about those topics like nothing? Now I know that and take it as a fact, but back in those days, I couldn't understand it. I wanted to be recognized by everybody. I tried to get along with their conversation by even pretending I knew the topics. I didn't expect the more I tried, the greater trouble I got.
I gradually noticed that they were trying to be nice to me very frequently. After all, wherever I go including school, I can get along with people only when they are being nice to me and are caring for me. This fact really hurt me and made me hate myself.
I wanted information; the amount of information enough for me to cover up my blindness. And I wanted friends who judge me who I am regardless of whether or not I am physically impaired.
When I became a first-grade of high school, I got a new classmate. He came from an ordinary school. Although he looked cool, he was not; he was a very passionate boy. The type I don't think I like. One day he started playing pranks on me. He moved my textbooks surreptitiously. I had to be attentive to what people would feel about me and what I should do to respond to their concern for me, and that almost worn out my nerves. Adding insult to injury, he played pranks on me, which is an apparent cruel and inhuman act for the totally blind. Whenever a small happening occurred, I took it as a mischief on me, and I was so mad about myself finding myself so irritated by that kind of thought. I told him to stop it, but he wouldn't. On the other hand, he was so good at supporting me when I really needed it. That further aggravated my agony.
I didn't think the person who was so supportive could seriously play pranks on me. He may be doing it because he takes me as a person? I wanted to have a friend who judges me who I am regardless of my physical condition, but is he the kind of friend I wanted? Wasn't he really the one I wanted?
I worried quite a lot. I also consulted with other people. But I felt any advice given to me wasn't the right solution to me. People say that nobody understands the pain you are feeling. I thought nobody but the totally blind people understands this kind of worry.
Just be myself!
This is the idea that came to me the moment I felt there was no way out. It could be an act of self-defense, I don't know.
Isn't what really important leading life without taking a disability as a disadvantage and comparing yourself with anybody else? It is never me behaving like others. I am who I am!
After all I have been through with him, we are now so friendly we can talk about personal problems to each other. I also think I can enjoy conversation with my seniors with amblyopia by making comments from the viewpoint of the totally blind.
As you may see from a TV program such as 24 Hour Television, the daily life of the disabled people is often treated as a miracle. The focus is put on the impairment, and the impaired people are excessively beautified or sympathized. Those things happen. But that is not what I want.
"Personality" is what makes a person be oneself. Everybody tends to compare themselves with others or try to make a good showing. Personality means you are a person including both good and bad aspects. If this theory goes, then isn't my disability part of my personality? You may lose a lot because of that disability. But even if you have a disability, or because you have that disability, you are who you are. For example, I greatly love singing. But if I have the ordinary eyesight, I wouldn't have immersed in singing this much.
It is important for the disabled people to aggressively show who you are as a person who has things he can do and can't do. When we lead our daily life like nothing special and merrily, the life of the disabled people will be taken as one kind of daily life. It's nothing special, and people should share that idea. Things you make up hurriedly can be fragile, but things completed by spending a lot of time won't be broken so easily. To share this idea that "It's nothing special," a slow but steady effort is necessary.
Now I love music so much, and I am so much immersed in music. I am taking on new challenges, including expanding my walking range. I am determined to increase things I can do and be fast on my feet. Because I want to promote sharing the idea that "It's nothing special" among all the people.