As a child, one of my most frustrating moments came when Mario froze mid-jump. Just as I was about to avoid the last fiery ball in the concrete castle to save Princess Peach, the game suspended, and no amount of punishing to the red and black buttons made the action begin again. I shrieked and pleaded with my mother and father that I couldn’t start over. I couldn’t redo the brilliance of my last attempt to defeat the level. After pouting and stomping for a few minutes, I finally pushed the reset button and led Mario to bounce past the next set of obstacles.
The Big Red Button
Many people find it hard to imagine starting over again. Whether it is after a divorce, the loss of a loved one, or the development of a physical disability, it can be hard to even think of leaving the house again, much less address the changes that the person’s life will inevitably undergo.
In 2007, at the age of 26, I was assaulted by my childhood friends, and as a result of the injuries inflicted, I became blind. It was initially terrifying. I was young, healthy, and intelligent, but without my sight, my vision for what I could have in a future became blurry and unpredictable. Because of this incident and the resulting recovery, I learned a lot about how hitting that reset button as a child, even in the case of a silly game, helped me to understand that starting over can lead to even greater discoveries and accomplishments.
A Chance at a Do-Over
If you are looking to begin again, you should first learn what is possible in your new life. Some areas will be easier to master than others: learning to walk with a cane came easy to me, but Braille proved to be my biggest foe. Finding inspiration, connecting with others in similar situations, and building confidence can provide the necessary inspiration and motivation.
Begin by seeking out a mentor — someone who has or is living in a similar situation. If you want to get out of debt, you should find someone who struggled to pay bills and avoided debt collectors’ calls. If you are learning to be a single parent, find a woman who not only is a single parent, but also leads a million-dollar company, volunteers for community causes, and still makes it to her son’s games. I found that having a blind author as a mentor helped me to remain patient and have faith that I could eventually learn to iron my own clothes, go shopping, and even travel far distances. This person also served as inspiration for my own writing ambitions. Find a mentor who can provide advice on the current changes in your life and also serve as a inspiration for your future.
Confidence was the other main issue I struggled with after becoming blind, and it can be the most important quality in maintaining a positive attitude and making progress. Just like in the games I played as a child, the only way I was able to make it to the next level was to take a risk, make mistakes, and learn from them. I made a lot of wrong turns in order to finally become familiar with a neighborhood and find the route that would work for me. I spent many hours learning to pick out clothes with the help of adaptive technology, and I learned to ask people for help when I needed it. Challenge yourself to fail every chance you get. It will help you to push yourself to learn something new, to meet new people, and to find new confidence in yourself.
Sometimes the best plan is planning for a reset. Find a mentor and build your confidence; you might just find a hidden level that is worth fighting for.
Who is Belo Cipriani?
Belo Cipriani is the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind, the “Get to Work” columnist for SFGate.com, and the author of Blind: A Memoir. You are invited to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.