I lost my sight at the age of six due to optic nerve damage. At times, life has been tough. Overcoming challenges, however, has helped me to grow as a person.
Soon after losing my sight, I discovered a passion for writing. My imagination distracted me from negative thinking and provided me with a sense of freedom. The fiction world was my haven. Writing has always helped me to cope with the hard times. The written word can be very liberating and empowering.
I was very shy and insecure during my schooling years. I struggled to make friends with my sighted peers. Gradually I realised that I needed to believe in myself. My parents always encouraged me to make the most of life. I was fortunate to be involved in many activities outside of school. These included horse riding, swimming, bushwalking and going on camps.
Lost in the bush
I once went on a hiking trip in the Cathedral Ranges State Park in Victoria. During the night I needed to go to the toilet. I walked towards a clump of trees. On my return I dropped the toilet roll. In attempting to find it I lost my sense of direction. I ended up spending the rest of the night outdoors. Fortunately I was found in the morning by my fellow campers. While being lost in the bush was scary, the hiking trip was a great learning experience. I also learned that next time I would take a box of tissues.
My social life improved when I finished school. I made friends at university and my confidence grew. I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English. Then I studied social work. I had received help throughout my life and wanted to give something back to others.
When I started my social work course I encountered resistance from certain lecturers. They were strongly political and said I was not assertive enough for the role. I had a meeting with the head of department and the placement co-ordinator. For the first time in my life I was forced to advocate for myself.
During this time I began volunteer work with homeless people. I enjoyed meeting people from different backgrounds and made many friends. This experience also helped to broaden my outlook on life. The following year I received a seeing-eye dog named Zora. It marked a turning point in my life. I moved out of home and lived interstate for a while.
The next couple of years were rocky. I met someone but eventually realised he threatened my self-esteem and sense of identity. With the support of family and friends, however, I grew stronger as a person. I decided to make a fresh start in life.