We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofRylie Donahoe

This is the story about my first pair of glasses. It all began with an early morning in first grade. It was bright and sunny and the morning dew was still evaporating. I had looked across the classroom at my friends. They looked a little different though. Maybe a bit blurry? I thought I had gotten something in my eye. I squinted and that made things better. The day went on as usual and I went home with no homework. Everything was perfect, or at least it had been until my mom told me I had an appointment with something called an optometrist. I had no idea what that meant or who that was. All I knew was what my mom said. She explained I was seeing a doctor for my eyesight. I didn’t even think twice about having a problem with my eyes.  After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally out of cold, dark rooms where I had taken various tests. The doctor told my mom that I should get glasses for my depleting eyesight. I had to try on many pairs of glasses with frames of all different shapes and sizes. My mom settled on a pair of square-framed glasses that had purple and black rims. They worked fine but my parents didn’t actually want me to wear them, did they? I looked so strange. I hated how they would slide down my nose every time I looked down. It was annoying too, when I would run and the glasses would move and shake. My ears would hurt after a while of wearing them. They were just a general inconvenience to me. I could barely tell the difference between my vision with or without them anyway. It’s not like wearing glasses would make a major difference to me.  I would wear glasses in front of my parents only to take them off at school. I didn’t know how damaging it was; at the time I didn’t care. All I really cared about was running around free from two lenses over my eyes and having fun with my friends. Sadly, my usual routine became more difficult.  Surely, no one could have seen this coming. I was in third grade when I really started to realize I could not see clearly. I found it difficult to see the board and had to ask my classmates for information all the time. My hand-eye coordination was at an all-time low since everything that wasn’t five inches in front of my face had become a blur. Everything was just worse. It was worth it though right? Losing my glasses so I could maintain my image? It wasn’t until fourth grade that I decided maybe I would try out my glasses. However, they weren’t the same as my first pair anymore. These glasses were a little different and had a stronger prescription. I was very nervous. What would my friends think? Would they think I was weird and too frail to hang out with? Would they not consider me as an equal anymore? As I walked into my school, not much changed. I got a few glances and some compliments which really pleased me. I couldn’t imagine this going any better. After three years of not using my glasses, I felt great. I could finally see what was on that board that always seemed to mock me. I was overjoyed that my friends were fine with this new look too. Getting glasses has taught me so much about myself and my identity. I realize now that I was reckless and didn’t use the tools I was offered. So many people struggle with finding themselves and worry about what others think. If you constantly worry about what others think of you, you might miss the tools that are right in front of your face.

© Rylie Donahoe. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.