Hey there everyone!!
What makes you, you? Think about that for a moment…
There’s probably a bunch of characteristics that come to your mind. Sometimes, the most basic of traits we overlook. For example, did you think about your gender, your ethnicity, or your age? We tend not to describe ourselves with these attributes because we don’t want other people to judge our character or our personality based on these attributes. And, these are attributes that we may not have any control over — we cannot change them, so we overlook them.
One of my core traits is being an albino. An albino is a person who has a genetic inheritance that causes them to have no pigmentation in their eyes, skin, and/or hair. Albinos tend to stand out because of our very pale skin and white hair. (Check out my picture to the right ) Because I didn’t want to be isolated socially, I never thought of myself as an albino. I would try to fit in, and I didn’t do any research on what it means to have albinism.
I’ve learned that I am an albino, and I have to deal with it head-on. Not doing so causes others to have more concern, uncertainty, and hesitation when dealing with me. That doesn’t create a space of relatedness. However, when I bring it up, when I’m straight with people about it, not only do they get educated about the subject, they get more relaxed and present to our conversation. Sometimes I talk about it with humor, and that really puts people at ease.
Our core attributes can be obvious (like our gender) or not so obvious (like our age). Now, those examples may not be an issue for you, and I’m pretty sure that albinism isn’t an issue for you either (since it occurs for 1 out of 20,000 individuals). Some things that may be an issue are: being diabetic, talking with a strong accent, having a mood disorder, being gay/lesbian, or having epilepsy. Or maybe it’s something much more subtle for you… In our attempts to portray ourselves in a positive light, we sometimes become reluctant to be self-expressed and communicate our condition and/or our needs to others.
It can be very difficult to communicate what our needs may be. I find that explaining what I can see and what I cannot see (the albinism causes me to have only 5% sight) is challenging. In fact, the most common question I get from new friends and subscribers to this newsletter is, “If you can’t see, how do you work on the computer, write e-mails, etc?”
Let me try to explain it. Actually, working on the computer is one of the easiest things to do in my life. If somebody hands me a piece of paper, I can’t read anything on it. However, if somebody sends me an e-mail, I can change the color, the font, the size, the contrast, the brightness, etc. With technology, anything and everything can be easily altered. That’s why the Internet has been such a Godsend for me. Today, I do everything I can on the Internet, including shopping, banking, looking for nice restaurants, watching movie trailers, reading the news, and planning a vacation. To do so without the Internet would make my life much more difficult.
Another issue which is difficult for me to explain to people is my inability to recognize them. I meet people who recognize me all the time. Many of them assume that I know who they are, and it becomes awkward to tell them that I have no clue who they are when they are so excited to see me. It’s tough. Sometimes I pretend that I know who they are, and during the conversation I eventually figure it out. Other times, I tell them straight that I don’t know who they are, even though we may have met many times before.
Some people misunderstand and some people just don’t get it. However, when we take the time to explain our traits, it not only helps others, it helps us, understand ourselves, better. It may even give us a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the traits that we do have and how we use them. And as we become more self-expressed about our traits to others, we get better at communicating our wants and needs.
So, who are you? You are many things. You are awesome. You are a miracle. You are unique. Every trait that you have or don’t have is a gift. When we learn to love ourselves for everything that we are, we learn to love others for everything that they are.
Let’s love the world together…
Danish Ahmed, blind visionary