Have you ever been put to the test? Or, been asked to take the test? I’m sure you will know what I’m talking about once you hear my story… Somehow, whether, you are low vision, or totally blind, you have been appointed with the characteristic of independent. This independent label is almost never self-appointed, rather earned, not because you want to qualify for the tag of independent; but because you’re forced into carrying this label.
What is shocking to me is how often I am put to “The Test,” or made to perform tasks to maintain the label of independence, time and time again through various activities. Mind you, they are things that every blind person engages in on a daily basis; your asked to perform them in order to prove you can still pass, “The Test.” Do I receive a letter grade after completing and passing these arbitrary tests? Or completing the task, of course not. Do I receive a degree? Or some sort of certificate, for passing this test, of course not. But time and time again I am put through this test. Oftentimes it is with people I either live with, have lived with, love, work with, or know pretty well, sad to think that these are the administrators of this exam.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, when you are truly, honest, with yourself… When someone will say to you, “Are you able to do that by yourself?” Or you might hear somebody say, something, “I left it all there for you to do.” But they didn’t just leave it there for you to do, or wonder if you’ll be able to do the task, truly, it comes across to me, as though they want to be entertained, by watching us successfully pass “The Test.” If you were to ask a bystander, what is happening while you are busily achieving a task that most would not even give a second thought too, you would be surprised to hear that your loved one, spouse, your coworker, even your close friend is standing there just watching you, to the point of being paralyzed, in such a way, it would seem as though they are forced into watching you complete or perform some mundane task that any sighted person would have no trouble finishing.
I experienced this recently during my recovery time at home. I have for a little over the past two months been in a medical crisis with my eye, which has involved several surgeries, with many restrictions… No bending, lifting, no strenuous activities, as well as months of bed rest. One might think after raising four children, being married, having three guide dogs, a number of pets owning my own home, maintaining a large yard and doing most to nearly all of my own gardening, on top of all of the other everyday tasks that I am required to do as a wife and a mother; I would not be asked, time and time again to perform, “The Test.” But, yet again I was.
Many family members volunteered, as you can imagine, so I took one of them up on their offer. The task was to do the grocery shopping. I thanked them and headed back to my bed to continue recovery. I was stopped and told, “I left it all there on the counter for you to put away.” To be honest I was a little surprised, given all my restrictions and that the bags of groceries were both on the counter as well as on the floor. I proceeded to dig through the bags and put the food away and do you know what happened next? Yes, it was “The Test” it began with little questions like, “do you know what that is? Or here was one of my favorites, “that is milk.” I thought to myself, really? As my family member sat at my dining room table, watching every move I made.
I can be assured that “The Test”, will come again, and again, I am just not sure why? I think if you are honest with yourself you might be able to recall or even share with me a time or two this has happened to you. My question is why??? Why?? Is it so important to the sighted world, that we are given the label of independent, but then consistently asked to perform to prove that we are qualified for this label that is thrust upon us? In my humble opinion, Independence is an action, demonstrated through the way you live your life. Independence is a movement, it is bigger than what you do, how you do it, and how often you do it; independence, resides in the results that grow from your actions. So to be required, to complete some arbitrary exam, time and time again to reassure the people who feel they “love” us or “care” about us the most, to me, seems silly. Call me independent because that’s what you see, not because that is what you want me to be.