“Hindsight is Everything” – What I Wish I Knew When I Was 14

I was 14 years old when I was diagnosed with RP. It affected me in some ways, but it mostly didn’t affect me. Sure, having those panic attacks when I went from light to dark/dark to light situations SUCKED as did the many doctors appointments, nurses office visits, and trips to the Emergency Room until we figured out what was “wrong,”.. but other than that, I didn’t really care that I had this disease that would likely one day lead to blindness.. I was a 14 year old, 8th grade student. Now, mind you I had already lost a good chunk of my vision – I think I was between 40 and 60 degrees (normal is 180). But that was just normal to me.

And I consider THAT (40 degrees) REALLY sighted. There are things that I wish I had learned in those years when I had a lot of sight, or even the several years after when I still had a fair amount of sight.

Makeup and hair is one of the big ones and has always been a weakness point for me. I was a tomboy.. I wore big shirts and loose jeans.. I didn’t really care about makeup (AT ALL), nor hair (AT ALL). And over the next many years when I DID decide to want to try and get into it, everybody was already good at it so I most of the time just gave up. Or I got lazy and didn’t want to spend the time doing it. Every couple years I go through this phase of really caring, and then something discourages me again. Now, I’m 25 years old, with a full-time job, and I don’t have the “girly” skills I wish I had, and it’s REALLY challenging for me to learn with very little sight. It’s so frustrating.. something I don’t think anybody can really understand.

The breaking point was a few years ago.. right after I got Makiko, my class presented me with a big black bean bag. A friend (at the time) sent me the pictures of the event and I was like Oh.. My.. GOSH my hair is HORRIBLE. I then asked her if my hair is always like this and she had some pretty nasty things to say.. to this DAY, that still hurts me really bad.

So I’m back to full-force trying again. I got a really cute haircut at Ulta and the stylist, Eden, spent a lot of time with me actually showing me different things so that I understood it. She talked it through and she tried to accommodate my disability in explaining everything the best possible. We were her first blind customer. So I tried to style it myself tonight, following her instructions, and it came out how I wanted it. What a relief.. now it takes a little longer in the evenings but if it makes me feel GOOD about myself, why not, right? 🙂

Makeup is also something I’m working on. A few years ago a fellow friend with a disability showed me how to put on makeup, or more tricks on how to put on makeup. My mom and sister have also helped in this area. So since then, I have just been playing with it. But the thing is – how does a person who can barely see anything, know how it is “supposed to look,” or know ‘the trends?” This stuff is frustrating, hah. However, my sister recently suggested that I try this eyeshadow crayon, which I really like. I don’t have to worry about that tiny brush and missing spots.. this gets a lot of coverage. I know how to do eyeliner (top is a heck of a lot easier than bottom) and mascara – those aren’t hard.. the hard part for me has always been the eye shadow and sometimes I have fights with the eyeliner.

So we’re getting there. But here’s another worry of mine – if I suddenly start wearing makeup again after over a year at my job without much makeup, what will their reaction be? Now, I can hear some of you all saying – don’t worry about what they say, it’s how you feel – but I DO worry about what they are going to say and think, but obviously not enough.

I want to continue to learn how to do makeup and hair. This is one of the posts that I feel I have opened myself up the most with and said what I consider one of my “deep dark secrets,” because this topic really really has bothered me a lot over the years.

There are a few other things that I wish I had learned when I had more sight, but this is the biggest one.

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Jessica N and Makiko

Jessica is a proud Texan. She graduated in 2014 with her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and is now employed. She is visually impaired and has a retinal disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. Originally Jessica started blogging about everything from being diagnosed with the disease to where she is now, almost 9 years later. Then, Jessica went to Guide Dogs for the Blind and was blessed with Makiko, her new guide dog. Now, her blog "The Way Eye See The World" is about everything related to visual impairments, including guide dogs.

One thought on ““Hindsight is Everything” – What I Wish I Knew When I Was 14”

  1. Dear Jess,
    Thanks for sharing! This will sound dumb, but I never gave a thought to how hard this would have been for you! While it now seems obvious to me that timing and your disability clashed in a big way here- I missed connecting it without your brave communication!
    Please let me share a couple of “first thoughts”…
    This struggle will make you more empathetic and stronger in your career. These insights and personal hurdles are what make you approachable and genuine in every aspect of relating and helping! The people you work with and counsel will trust your sincerity and recognize the wisdom that comes from your experiences- even those seemingly dark secrets that you have shared here.
    And, secondly, I find most people have a heart to help and encourage, but need a “safe” path to to that. Maybe consider sharing with at least one of the women you work with that you wonder if they could be an ally in this journey……say that this is a goal for you and you could use an extra set of eyes (Makiko does have her limits when it comes to personal grooming/make up/hair! 😂)! I think (hope) someone would love to be a partner with you (I wish I could!) making this next leg of your journey a good experience! (My dearest and closest friend of 25 years- who I relied on for many things like this in my sighted world- moved away 2 years ago and I’ve missed her helpful input and feedback)….
    I hope you will know that I am so grateful to walk a few steps along side you through this blog and your opening yourself to us. You have enriched my perspective! Wishing you great success- always! You are a treasure!
    With great respect-

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