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Resilience

This month, resilience was a recurrent theme that kept emerging from different people and situations at ICO. Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt, bounce back, and recover when life sends challenges your way. Inevitably, everyone experiences challenges and rough patches at some point in their lives. However, not everyone is able to handle these challenges with grace and positivity. Today, I will share with you two people that have made me reconsider not only the way I look at challenges, but also my outlook on life.


First is my fellow first-year colleague, Ryan. Ryan and I were both a part of the intramural soccer team arranged by ICO. A nasty fall during one of the games caused Ryan to tear his ACL. I’d never experienced this injury, so I didn’t really know how debilitating it was. After speaking with Ryan following the incident, I started to understand the severity. He could barely put any weight on his injured leg and he needed assistance for pretty much anything that required sitting and getting up. He explained that he would eventually require surgery and physical therapy to completely remediate the damage, with an expected recovery time of 9 months. After hearing this, I was devastated. I couldn’t even imagine what he was going through. Getting through the ICO curriculum can already be challenging; I can't imagine doing it with an injury that impedes your ability to simply get out of bed in the morning.


Nonetheless, 2 days after the injury, I was sitting in class and saw Ryan come in on his crutches. I was awestruck and inspired. It would’ve been very easy for him to just stay home and use his injury as a valid excuse to not come to class, but that wasn’t the case. This made me re-evaluate the excuses I make in my head whenever I don’t feel like doing the hard things that lead to my goals.


Second is a guest speaker that was brought in by the ICO Low Vision Club. This speaker also happened to be the father of a second-year student, Payton Holden. Mr. Holden was born with type 1 diabetes which eventually led to diabetic retinopathy and complete vision loss 26 years ago. Hearing about his journey through life was heart-wrenching but also very uplifting at the same time. While growing up, Mr. Holden played sports, stayed active, and had regular doctor appointments to monitor his diabetes. However, in his mid 20’s, several months after meeting his wife, Mr. Holden lost his vision. He took this circumstance and made the most out of it. He developed ways in his everyday life to adapt and thrive. Mr. Holden successfully raised 2 children along with the help of his wife- truly inspirational!


For many people, I believe this incident would make them feel hopeless- like their life is over. Individuals like Mr. Holden are prime examples of resilence; they are able to take the punches life throws at them and make something great. Following the presentation, the first thing I realized was how much I took my vision for granted. I feel like vision is something that you can feel grateful for, but might not understand the full value of until it’s too late. I heard Mr. Holden describe how he missed seeing sunsets, but because he was once able to see them, he can use his imagination to form an image whenever the sight is described to him. I have now made it routine to take a second to fully appreciate a breathtaking view when it presents itself to me. Mr. Holden has helped me change my outlook on many of my own challenges while also helping me realize the importance of appreciating the little things in life.


After experiencing both of these stories, this quote is on my mind: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain” -Vivian Greene.


Till next time,

Alek





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Chicago, IL 60616

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