When I was in middle school (I know, not many sentences that start like this end up good), among other things, I wanted glasses. I can't tell you what possessed my 11-year-old self to wish I had poorer eyesight, but I wanted them badly. And as if I willed it into happening, by the end of middle school, I could no longer see the chalk board.
I got glasses, finally, but they weren't as glamorous as I expected. They were simple wire frames that looked cool when I tried them on, but horrible as soon as I brought them home. I immediately felt embarrassed that I had to wear them in school, so wore them as little as possible. In the hallways, when people would wave to me, I could not recognize them and walked by. This, I found out, was the same problem that John Lennon had when he first got his glasses. I would squint and strain, cursing myself for ever wishing for this aesthetic and social impediment.
Though glasses and I didn't start out as friends, by dependency, I started wearing them more and more, until they were a signature part of my "look." And quite appropriately, the glasses fit with my bookish personality.
For a while, glasses and I got along, though they were not ideal for getting noticed at a party or engaging in sports (not that I really did either of those things too much). My glasses became the shield that I hid behind, a way for me to blend in. I soon became comfortable with them, and without them, felt naked.
About the time I was halfway through college, I was long overdue for a reinvention of myself. Long days of academic commitment took precedence over my look. I needed to dress better, figure out what to do with my hair, and take care of myself. I needed a makeover.
Where did that start? Contacts. As in, lenses. I needed to part ways with my glasses and experience the vulnerability that would get me noticed. Lots of people I knew had contacts and they seemed super easy and convenient, but of course I had my worries. What if they dried up in my eyes? What if they blinded me? I had a roommate who used to sleep in her contacts and take a shower with them in, something I knew to be a dangerous practice. But with repeated encouragement by family and friends, I made an appointment.
At the eye doctor, I spent nearly two hours trying to get the contacts in my eye at first. There was a difficult technique of holding up your eyelid while looking up and getting the contact to seal with your eye juice. Though it was initially discouraging, I felt a huge victory when I was finally able to see without my glasses. It started out weird and new, but I didn't even feel them after a while.
I soon found myself not just undergoing a physical transformation, but also a change of attitude. I was more confident; I no longer had frames to hide behind. I was getting more comfortable being me. I was seeing things through a different lens. I still wear my glasses, but now have a newfound appreciation for my eyes. I was always told my blue eyes were something that made me unique, so why for so long was I trying to conceal them? Contacts ended up being the perfect choice for the new me.