Through the years, many have expressed struggles with social problems here on our Eyes Apart website as well as in our Eyes Apart Email Support Group. Newcomers tell us they thought they were the only one with these insecure social needs. It’s surprising the first time we discover that there are so many of us who struggle socially, isn’t it?
Yet not all our social problems are directly related to the appearance of our eyes. Some have surgery to straighten their eyes and become social butterflies, but many still struggle with the insecurity of how others perceive them after their eyes are straight. Likely some of us would have had serious social problems even without strabismus, due to a combination of any number of possible factors, though our strabismus, no doubt, makes it worse.
But there are a few who tell us their turned eyes have never kept them from being the social person they want to be. They seem to find friends and social interaction in spite of their appearance. Could it be that they focus on others rather than how they appear to others? But if you’re not used to it, that’s a big hurdle to get past. How can you do it?
Here are some suggestions:
Listen to people around you this week. Feel their pain. You overheard a co-worker sharing his burden in a phone conversation as you walked into the building this morning. Or maybe you just noticed that he looked lonely sitting by himself. What can you do to help?
Follow your compassionate instincts. Perhaps it’s to stop by his desk long enough to put your hand on his shoulder and say, with genuine concern, “I couldn’t help overhearing your phone conversation this morning as we came in. I’m sorry that happened to you.” That’s a start.
Or how many people have walked up to you and tried to be a friend as you were sitting alone, shying away from the crowd? Most would probably say none, or very few, because that is how our world is. But what if someone had made the effort to show you that they were concerned for you sitting alone, and weren’t turned off by your eyes? Why not become that person for someone else — a person who determines that if they cannot get their own social needs met they will at least try to make the world a better place for others who are struggling for whatever reason? What would happen if you did that?
It doesn’t have to be a long thing. Just a glance and a smile or nod. Maybe a touch. Or a few words. Start small. Watch for people every day, everywhere, who need a friend in their lives for even just a fleeting moment. Can you make someone’s day better today? Many people would be surprised to join a group, any group, and hear others talking about being shy, timid, or bullied because of who they are. They don’t have strabismus, but they think they are alone in their painful social struggle. Strabismus doesn’t matter to them. They are not interested in how you look. All they want to know is, “Do you care?” Maybe no one is willing to be that someone for you. But will you be that someone to help another?
That’s my challenge for you this week. I hope some of you will take me up on it, and report back to let us know how it is going. If it doesn’t go as well as you hope at first, don’t quit. It gets better with practice. You can do this. And you will feel so good when you do!
Who will you make a difference for someone today?