Isolation Woke Me Up, Drew Hunthausen, Blind Inspirational Speaker

Has anyone here ever felt isolated? Maybe you didn’t fit in or felt alone? This was an everyday feeling for me following my return to school and “normal” society after my illness. It was magnified by my total blindness and hearing impairment. Was I the only one who felt this way? Did any of my friends still want to hang out with me? Had I done something to drive them away?

I spent a lot of time pondering these tough questions, blaming myself, beating myself up psychologically, often resulting with tears streaming down my face. Thoughts of hopelessness and despair burdened me, for I had no clue how a blind, hearing impaired, weak kid could ever attract the friends and relationships I truly desired.

Walking from class to class, or trying to find someone I knew to sit with at lunch was so frustrating, and often brought me to tears almost on a daily basis. I could hear all the students around me, but was powerless to seek them out and initiate a friendship. There were many days I didn’t even want to try, sitting by myself sucked but it was much easier than being repeatedly disappointed after so much effort. Isolation doesn’t do justice to how I felt during that time.

One of the hardest things for me, especially early on, was to open up and share my feelings. I often turned my hurt and frustrations inward and blamed myself. Later that year I finally had the courage to talk about something that may not look like much on the outside but was tearing me up on the inside. I shared these feelings of isolation and hopelessness with my family and closest friends. I allowed them to help me better understand what was going on and deal with my deep feelings of isolation. They pointed out the fact that it was not my fault and that many teenagers are just immature and don’t know how to handle or what to say to someone who is so different from them. It took a while to accept, but I was so grateful for the insight, and was lifted up and open to letting go of old relationships and ready to meet those who could look past my disabilities.

Over 20 years have come and gone since those days in middle school. Twenty plus years that have not been easy but have taught me so much. By no means has the isolation disappeared, but it has gotten much better and easier to deal with. The most important lessons I have learned over the years have helped bring me to where I am today.

No one can navigate through life alone, and we all need the support and guidance from others. I would be truly lost today if it were not for so many incredible people who have been my guides and support along the way.

The other thing I have learned through the years is that each one of us has a choice to make every single day. What kind of a day do you want to have? It’s really up to you. It became so apparent to me that this choice I had each day dictated my happiness, and ultimate joy.

By no means is it easy each day when I get up in the morning. I wake up and realize that I am still blind, still hearing impaired, and still can’t do many of the things my peers can. Each day there are reminders of these challenges like when I trip over something that was left in the hallway or use the athletes foot spray on myself instead of sunscreen. I admit I do sometimes get frustrated with myself and occasionally even a little angry for my “unfair and stupid” circumstances, but I am always reminded at I have a choice.

Friends, it’s not fun to feel isolated. It’s not fun to be frustrated and even angry at your circumstances. However, no matter how bad things are and how alone we might feel, it is also comforting and a blessing to know that all of us has a choice. The choice to get up each morning and to journey on believing that the best is yet to come.

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