Blogger and Youtuber Natalie has an eye condition called Congenital Nystagmus, sometimes described as ‘wobbly eyes’ or ‘dancing eyes’.
As part of our End the Awkward campaign, Natalie explains her ‘moody looks’ aren’t personal, and why she cringes every time she holds her arm out to wave down the bus…
Growing up, I used to think that if I tried to hide my disability things would be easier.
My visual impairment is not necessarily obvious to an onlooker; however situations that occur as a consequence of having poor vision can be quite noticeable.
Often, friends tell me I did not wave back at them and I explain it is because I had not seen them. With people who know me, they generally understand, though it can be embarrassing when people think I am just ignoring them.
The perils of waving down the bus
I’m registered partially sighted and getting off the bus at my stop and waving one down is quite challenging. Many times I have been waiting at a bus stop and the bus has just driven straight past.
One time I was waiting for the bus, I began to wave it over, but it didn’t slow down. As it passed in front of me, the lady next to me said ‘I think that’s an ice cream van love’.
Still waiting for my bus, a white van slowed down next to me and a guy popped his head out and said “alright darlin’, where can I take you to?” Obviously I politely declined the offer.
Shame the ice cream van didn’t stop as I could have done with an ice lolly waiting for the bloody bus!
But I do slightly cringe when I stick my arm out to flag down a bus because I’m not sure what I’m going to get.
The blind lollypop lady
A friend of mine, who is also visually impaired, said her bus company offered a ‘STOP’ sign for her to hold up while waiting for a bus.
Unsurprisingly she declined the offer and who could blame her? Would you like to hold a guide dog in one hand and in the other, a huge STOP sign?
My friend would have looked like a blind lollypop lady!
I’m not really grumpy
My facial expression can sometimes look like I’m really grumpy, often interpreted as ‘moody looks’.
Misunderstandings happen when I’m trying to focus on what I’m seeing, but I seem like I’m frowning with my eyes darting about due to Nystagmus.
So if you see me, I don’t wave back, I look at you with a frown and walk straight past, it is nothing personal, I’m just a VIP, a Visually Impaired Person!
Raising awareness and ending the awkward
I think the best thing to do in life is just keep trying. There might be awkward moments along the way but if you don’t try, you might not find what you are looking for.
These stories are not the half of what I’m dealing with as someone with a visual impairment. I hope that my sharing them some people might learn more about disability, a great place to start to #EndTheAwkward.
Have you got an awkward tale to tell? Share your story with us.