don’t fall into my trap

Last week I was chatting to a South African friend on Facebook I used to work with when we both lived in London. It was nothing special; we just updated each other on our lives. He asked me if I was still working for the BBC in London and I told him I had moved back to Oslo to do a master’s degree because my contract had ended and I wanted to look more attractive to employers. “You are only scaring them off, LOL” was his reply. He was of course only joking, but he did sort of have a point.

Because I am blind, I have always been told that I will never be first in line for anything such as jobs, partners or even friends. People have also been quick to excuse any mistake I make, or any shortcomings I may have as a person on my blindness. I replied to my friend’s message saying that because of prejudices in the job market, it was imperative that my qualifications were so good that my blindness wouldn’t be taken into account. In other words, I had to over compensate.

I have spent a lot of my life trying to over compensate for the fact that my eyes don’t work. And though I am a great supporter of doing your best to achieve as much as you can, I think my problem has been my constant mental focus on needing to be better than sighted people in order to be as good. I realize this thought is a little confusing, but I hope you follow me.

In my previous post, I wrote that we live in a society where we all are made to feel bad if we are not performing to top standards in everything at all times. I think this is especially true for women. In Norwegian we have an expression for this. We say that somebody suffers from good girl syndrome, or clever girl syndrome.

I suffer from that. I can admit that openly, but I also suffer from over compensation due to blindness syndrome and the combination of those is hell. I am slowly trying to let go of this, but it is very difficult. I for example have to tell myself that it is okay to use a cab to get to somewhere I don’t know to save mental energy. And that sighted people also get help doing basic things sometimes.

The fierce superwoman standards I’ve tried to live up to, have at times made my life more complicated as well as lonelier than it need be. So, if you are VI and read this, remember that although it is important to do the best you can and work hard, over compensation will always lead to unhappiness. Hopefully, with changing attitudes in society, the need to over compensate will decrease. I am certainly noticing more positivity from both employers and well, I did manage to get a fully sighted partner. So in my case, a lot of the need for over compensation was in my head.

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One thought on “don’t fall into my trap

  1. Hi Linn,
    I am a sighted woman, and since I have found your blog I find myself wanting to engage, where in the past I would just have read and move on.
    So much you have written and shared here has struck a very sensitive chord with me. I wish I could say it doesn’t make sense or is a problem you have created for yourself, but sadly I do understand.
    The need to over compensate, to be better than everyone else so your “difference” (the fact you are blind) could not be called into question and you would be treated as fairly as any sighted person, any(” sighted woman” )at that, was something I too was faced with as a young child.
    My Father was a strict disciplinarian, the most important accomplishment for both my parents was for me to achieve academically. I was to be acknowledged for my success in becoming the best Doctor, Lawyer, A Professional!
    Being as good as the other girls in my class was not “Good enough”. (I was sent to an all girls private school!). My Father actually told me that “I had to do better than my peers and my best was not good enough and I had to improve” Why?
    I can see how you took on this idea that you always have to be the best, in a world that would test your abilities even more and to somehow prove yourself but I do hope that you will find a balance and help other blind and VI people do the same. (I recommend sighted parents of children born without sight, read the points you have highlighted here also). We/our society, needs to understand the importance of growth in all areas of our development, the need to achieve a healthy balance. Emotionally, socially, mentally, physically and academically…regardless of how so called “Normal Society ” may judge us. Well rounded development and love leads to well rounded independent individuals capable of achieving whatever we desire given an equal chance.
    As I said, I am a sighted female, the thing that made me connect so much to your words is, that I am a sighted “Black” female this was the reason I had to be better than the best, whether you were sighted or not.
    Unfortunately for me this pressure led to a life not having to worry about my career, I had to worry about over coming and surviving 30 years of Anorexia and Bulimia.
    I now try to help children with low self esteem or learning difficulties believe in themselves and I see them start to achieve their very best. Thank you for drawing my attention to this issue as it effects the life of a blind person. You have helped me appreciate how this “Good Girl/Good Boy Syndrome” exists outside my own experience.
    Many thanks as always
    Jus

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