I never thought I’d be one of those kids. Ya know, the geeky ones who had braces and wore glasses? I was way too cool for that! Then it hit me: puberty.
For six months I was in denial that I had a vision problem until my English teacher pulled me aside and asked me what was up. My grades were dropping: As to Cs. Was there trouble in the home? Was I having problems with friends? No, nothing like that… To be honest, I thought I had just gotten stupider.
Then one day my teacher asked me to read something off the chalkboard. Despite sitting in the front row I couldn’t read the sentence at all. It was all one giant blur. My teacher thought I was being belligerent and threatened to send me to detention if it kept up. I was mortified because I had always been every teacher’s pet and the best behaved in all my classes.
Fortunately, my school was doing vision screenings that week. All my friends had “passed” their vision exams and when I got the result of 20/80 vision my world crumbled. I would need glasses! Rather than being relieved that I wasn’t stupid after all, that I just couldn’t see properly, my pre-teen self began to think there was something deeply flawed with me. I saw my future laid out for me: I would be the kid that others made fun of.
Ha! Middle school drama!
This was occurring at the same time when my peers were all shooting up all around me like reeds, while I stayed the same height. When my pediatrician told me I would only grow to be be 5’4 I was devastated because I wanted to be 5’6 just like the twins Jessica and Elizabeth in my favorite novel series Sweet Valley High. The 5’4 height is now laughable because I’m way more petite than that: I’m actually a quarter inch less than 5 foot even!
It didn’t matter that some of my peers got glasses a year or two later. What mattered that I was extremely short and bespeckled and, thus, defective. Ah, teenage insecurity!
When I got contacts my freshman year of high school all of my peers were upset because I was the only girl on my cheerleading squad that had glasses and somehow that made me less of a snob (in their eyes). Fortunately I was able to keep my keep up appearances as “the smart one” because I actually paid attention to the games we were cheering at and learned the rules of each sport. I would then explain these rules to my fellow cheerleaders (ie. “You don’t cheer when the other team scores a touchdown!”) but it went out one ear and into the other as they were too distracted by physiques of the young men to pay attention to the game.
I laugh now at all this because this is all a normal part of puberty. Changing body, insecurity, juvenile perceptions of others…
And oh how I wish my vision were still 20/80! It is now 20/450 and if my vision weren’t able to be corrected with glasses and contacts I’d be legally blind. I can’t even see the big “E” on the Snellen Chart! At all. All I see is white. Really!
So, how ’bout you? Are you as “blind as a bat” like me? Did you have a rough transition into puberty?