Point of View: I am, in fact, defined by my differences

By Sara Tirrito
Staff writer

I’m lucky I don’t have blue eyes. My eye doctor told me that at a check-up several years ago, and I haven’t forgotten it yet.

My eyes don’t look like anyone else’s, but since they’re dark brown most people never notice unless the light catches them just right, and even then people tend to think their own eyes are playing tricks on them.

I was born with an eye disorder and had surgery on one eye to correct the problem, but as a result of the procedure one of my pupils looks more like a lopsided square than the circle it’s supposed to be.

It’s not altogether attractive, but it’s never bothered me much, and it’s never been something I’ve been concerned with hiding. Still, my doctor’s remark made me think twice.

He assumed that I, like so many others, don’t want to look different or clash with society’s standards of what is acceptable or beautiful. And in some ways that’s true.

I’ll admit that I attempt to follow some of the clothing trends, I never do anything too drastic with my hair. I like to feel like I fit in.

Still, I’ve learned to be OK with looking different and to embrace my imperfection, not only because I can’t change it, but because it gave me the chance to see.

If I hadn’t had my operation, I would have gone at least partially blind. My surgeons saved my sight and I refuse to be ashamed of the result of their work.

I’ve gotten used to the double takes, I know what people are thinking when they finally notice (they go through a combination of surprise, disgust and intrigue) and I’m not surprised if they’re a little freaked out.

We live in a society where differences aren’t always easily accepted, and we often simply don’t know how to react to differences in one another because those differences go against the grain of what we are supposed to be.

We are supposed to try to fit in, supposed to work toward the status quo, supposed to meet society’s accepted standards.

And when we don’t, that makes things a little too awkward for everyone else’s comfort.

Sometimes, though, I find myself wondering if it’s really such a bad thing to be different.

I can’t change the way my eyes look, but I don’t think I’d want to if I could. It’s one tiny thing among many that sets me apart from others, and each of those tiny things makes me who I am.

Whether our differences are on the surface or embedded in our souls, they are essential to each of us — they give us personality. They make us individuals.

So maybe it’s time that we start sending a new message.

Instead of expecting one another to hide our differences and conform to what is accepted by society, maybe we should finally encourage acceptance of the differences themselves.

After all, sometimes they can even help us to see more clearly—literally and figuratively.

Sara Tirrito is a sophomore journalism major from Texarkana. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.