My ophthalmologist prescribed me glasses when I was in the third grade. For a kid who was already kind of a nerd, my new frames did nothing to help my reputation.
But, I didn’t care. Or, if we’re being completely honest, I just wasn’t aware of what other people thought–obviously, since I chose to sport these large, round monstrosities.
Glasses weren’t quite the fashion statement back then like they are now (and not like that awesome denim outfit I’m wearing). Actually, glasses were probably just as much a fashion statement back then, but I clearly didn’t think of them that way. What I did think about was how to fashionably and practically keep my glasses on my face — because apparently since my oversized frames didn’t already guarantee that I’d be picked last in P.E., I also rocked those Croakies® athletic straps, just to make sure.
In my defense, I was a pretty active child. From ballet to soccer to skiing to getting tickled by my asshole sister, those straps were absolutely necessary to keep my glasses on and for me to see where exactly to kick that jerk in the gut.
Still, with the bug eyes and flamingo print…hm what’s that? Oh I forgot to mention the flamingos?
Sigh. Seriously, Mom. How could you let me leave the house like that?
As I was saying, with the bug eyes and flamingo print screaming “nerd alert” to all my friends, I began to realize what exactly my bad vision was costing me (MY DIGNITY).
Salvation came in the sixth grade when I finally upgraded to contact lenses. But, then I discovered that contacts came with their own set of inconveniences. For example: dry eyes, an extra few minutes tacked on to my already rushed mornings, dust induced lens crinkling in my eye, alcohol induced forgetting-to-remove-contacts-
I’ve lived with impaired vision for most of my life, and I have since gotten used to the everyday hassles of being practically blind. If you’re wondering just how “practically blind” I am, all you have to do is point one hand perpendicular to your face so that your fingers are pointed at your nose. Then, hold up an object where your wrist falls. Ok, you look super cool now.
But seriously, about five inches away from my face is approximately how close I have to place objects in order to see them clearly.
It probably doesn’t surprise you, then, that I’ve been asked many times whether or not I’d ever get laser treatment for my eyes, and I’d be lying if I said I never considered it. Of course! It’d be great if slippers and bad memories were the only fuzzy things in my life. But, the cards have been dealt, and I’m not trading them in for anything.
For one, the idea of a FUCKING LASER BEAM in my eye scares the living shit out of me. Also, my views on vision in general have slightly changed.
I remember a first visit with one of the many ophthalmologists I’ve seen over the years. My doctor asked me what prescription I had been using at the time. I answered him, knowing that even though he’s seen much worse, he’s also seen much better, with the disclaimer, “I know. My eyesight is bad.” And I’ll never forget his response:
“Or good. Depending on how you look at it.”
At that moment, I realized I had been seeing things unclearly this whole time (pun intended!).
It’s just a matter of perspective. I’m near-sighted, meaning I have trouble seeing objects that are (not really that) far away. But MORE IMPORTANTLY, I have a heightened ability to see objects that are very up close. Unlike people with 20/20 vision, my eyesight sharpens when viewing things at a very close, practically microscopic range. Without glasses or contacts, I can easily see tiny details that someone with “perfect” vision could not. Want me to pick out a tiny splinter? Thread a needle with ease? Count how many wrinkles you have around your eyes (none, Mom!)? Not a problem!
Yet, the second I throw those glasses or contacts back on, those objects immediately blur. Plus, I’m left with that dizzy, nauseated feeling that occurs when crossing my eyes to focus on something smack dab in front of my face.
It’s like I have superhero vision the second this Clark Kent takes off her glasses.
So, it got me thinking. What other super-human feats does my near-sightedness lend me?
I know plenty of people who lament the inconveniences of impaired vision, me included. But it’s time we celebrated our (usually thought of as flawed) attribute. And so, I’d like to share with you the little things in my life that make me happy that I can’t always see.
LEGITIMATE FASHION CHOICES
Disclaimer: I love fashion. I may not be the most fashionable person you see walking down the street. I don’t have a (fashion) blog (although, I have written about beauty). But, I keep up with the latest trends and incorporate many of them into my own wardrobe.
So, I have noticed, as I’m sure everyone else has unavoidably noticed as well, that the nerd look is still a prominent trend in the fashion world. Sure, most people associate it with the hipster movement. I’m not here to attack or debate hipsters. But, this guy probably is. And, honestly, I can commiserate.
Well, kind of. I don’t watch Star Trek: TNG. I don’t play Skyrim. I do, however, wear glasses. TO SEE.
I once went to a slumber party in middle school where the token mean girl played a prank on everyone. For the most part, she was not creative at all. Freezing bras and dipping our hands into warm water? C’mon, you can do better than that.
But, to me and another near-sighted victim, she rather ingeniously hid our glasses. The next morning, I learned for the first but not last time just how difficult it is to find your glasses when you have no idea where some bitch or drunk-you left them.
These days, I choose from a small collection of frames, depending on my mood or outfit. And, whichever pair I decide to throw on, I feel justified knowing that my glasses contain actual prescription lenses. I have nothing against wearing fake lenses for fashion’s sake. But, as a once-bullied nerd, I’m happy to say I get to wear my geek glasses with pride.
Also, the more glasses I have, the more the chances I have of being able to stumble across one of them in the morning.
SUNGLASSES INDOOR OR AT NIGHT
Kind of like the nerd thing, impaired vision provides an excuse to pull a Corey Hart and wear (prescription) sunglasses at night. Maybe you forgot to pack your regular glasses. Or maybe you lost them. Or maybe you live the glamorous life, you’re always chased by the paparazzi, their flash constantly blinds you, and you just need any kind of shaded prescription lens to see. I can totally relate.
Like anyone with an Instagram account, I think I’m a photographer.
As far as hobbies go, even at my (less than) amateur skill level, photography is great. The mundane easily transforms into high art just by a matter of framing. With photography, you really start to see little things in the world as if through the lens of your phone camera.
And, being near-sighted is like seeing the world with a beautiful, shallow focus.
If you’re not familiar with photography, shallow focus means that a point or section of a photo is very sharp while everything else around that section is very blurry. In photography or film, shallow focus, also known as small depth of field, creates a singular focal point so that the background doesn’t distract the viewer.
Like this super artsy photo. Notice how sharp the gum is and that the trashcans on the sidewalk are very blurry. The artist was obviously making commentary on how we as a society focus on the personal — the narcissistic and selfish joys such as discarding gum without a care to the environment. We trash the world, and we refuse to acknowledge it, leaving it just as a fuzzy afterthought.
Ha! No, I’m totally just kidding. I was just taking a dumb picture of old gum.
Still, I love shots with a shallow focus. So it’s to a huge advantage that I can just take off my glasses, focus on a nearby object, and let my impaired vision blur everything else around it. Just like that, art is at my fingertips. The world is my very own gallery.
If you’re anything like me, you’re a HUGE WUSS. I hate horror movies, haunted mazes, and pretty much anything that jumps at you out of nowhere like ugh we get it guys you’re in the mood.
If you’re anything like me, you’re also super chill, bro. I mean, whatever. I’m not scared.
I try to play it cool, but it’s next to impossible when someone is out to intentionally scare you. For horror movies, at least, I have mastered a little trick that has come after years of jumpiness, oh and yeah, wearing glasses.
The music is soft but slowly and surely crescendos. The idiot protagonist is about to investigate that strange noise outside even though EVERYONE KNOWS IT’S A TRAP OMG DON’T YOU KNOW SOMETHING BAD’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN?! And there I am, my glasses perfectly positioned so I can watch the unraveling of our hero with the blurry perspective from right above my frames. To anyone who happens to glance my way, it looks like I’m still watching the movie with rapt attention. But really, I get to avoid all the gory details and still get the gist of whatever twisted fate our idiot protagonist has met.
Essentially, I get to cover my eyes without getting made fun of.
Glasses protect you from things flying in your face like dust, raindrops, and dicks.
Ok, so none of these are really super-human feats. But, just like an unexpected downpour when you’re in desperate need of a carwash or a beautiful sunset when you’re stuck in traffic on the PCH, it’s the little things in life you learn to appreciate.
So, your vision might not be great. You may even be practically blind without corrective lenses. But, the silver lining is always there. You just might have to squint a little to see it.
Charlene Cheung is a writer and producer from Los Angeles. In other words, a total cliché. You can find her not tweeting here.