Future Reflections Convention Issue 2013
by Kristie Colton
From the Editor: Kristie Colton is a junior at Park City High School in Park City, Utah. She enjoys running, surfing, longboarding, and snowboarding. She has begun the process of researching colleges, and she is interested in criminal justice or criminal science as a career. She is training to run a marathon that will be held in Houston, Texas, in 2014 to raise funds for the Texas Center for the Missing. She gave this presentation at the NOPBC conference, "No Limits."
Dear Nine-year-old Me,
Seven years. It has been seven years since that day. You were in the fourth grade, sitting in a huge chair at the ophthalmologist's office, waiting while your parents talked to the doctor. Secretly, I think you knew the outcome. While you were sitting in that uncomfortably large chair, your parents were informed you have a degenerative condition called Stargardt's disease.
At first, you were quiet. You didn't like to talk about the diagnosis because you were afraid of how it would change you. So, nine-year-old me, I am here to tell you about those so-called "limits" you set for yourself the day you were diagnosed.
Before I can explain your life post-diagnosis, I have to be honest with you. It would be a lie to say you never doubted yourself. You did. A lot. Throughout these past seven years, success didn't come easily. But it was the moments you failed that fueled your desire to do better the next time.
As your vision loss progressed, school inevitably became harder. Print grew smaller and whiteboards got farther and farther away. But with help from your parents and teachers, you found a way to make things work, despite your growing difficulties. Now you're in the top 5 percent of your class.
One passion of yours carried on despite the degeneration of your vision—running. One of the proudest moments you will ever live was the second you crossed the finish line of your first half marathon. Sure, it was cold, and around Mile Nine you were about ready to beg for a peaceful death, or at least a glass of water. But you finished strong and proved that determination can take you anywhere—well, at least 13.1 miles, anyway.
If anything, I can assure you that blindness isn't the end to a life of adventure. Recently, you were lucky enough to travel to Costa Rica, where you stayed with a family in the mountains of Turrialba. And yes, it was embarrassing when you accidentally asked in Spanish if there was ham in the shower, when you meant to ask if there was soap! But that's not the point. The point of this entire speech is to let you know that being diagnosed with Stargardt's will never limit you from attaining your dreams unless you let it.
Other people will look at you and try to set your limits. It is your responsibility to rise above what others expect from you. The satisfaction in showing people you are more than your vision loss is reason enough to try harder.
So my final words of advice to my nine-year-old self are these: You found no limits, not because you're extraordinarily gifted or unbelievably talented, but because you are exceedingly passionate. We do not find limits by discovering the extent of our capabilities, but by unleashing our passions to their full potential. Try new things, follow your dreams, and don't ask "what if?" Life is so much more than having 20/20 vision!