Yes, on this day, Friday the 17th of March, I’m getting my eyes lasered.
So, there won’t be the usual post on Monday because I assume there’ll be a burning sensation whenever I try to type things. This will need to sustain you. I’ll do a throwback to one of my more popular posts on my Instagram stories and I’ll share the process of getting LASIK too so follow me there!
Anyway, I’ve been wearing glasses for nearly 22 years.
I usually like to write about personal epiphanies around mental health, work and personal development on this blog, but I kinda just wanna take a walk down memory lane before my surgery today. Stroll with me.
It was the summer before school and I was 9 years old, going on 10. I was backseat gaming Final Fantasy 9 with my older brother in his bedroom. He kept yelling at me to move away from the TV cos I was right up in front of it, nose practically squished up against the glass.
“MOVE BACK, YOU’LL RUIN YOUR EYES!!!”
“I CAN’T READ!!! YOU’RE MOVING TOO FAST!!”
This younger generation, with their fancy shmancy voice acting in videogames, won’t understand the pain of reading masses of text in little character speech bubbles at a much slower rate than your older sibling. I mean except for all the retro stuff out now… and the Indie stuff, and the fact that voice acting did exist back in 2001. Nvm.
Anyway, we got a little loud and my mother comes in to calm us down.
“WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING??!! IF YOU CAN’T BEHAVE JUST TURN THE GAME OFF!!!”
(What? No, we were a loving household, wdym?)
“SOPHIA is sitting too close to the TV” *smug inhale* “I’m just trying to make sure she doesn’t ruin her eyes ammi.” (Habib, this is how I remember it. You don’t control my memories.)
I explained to my mother that I couldn’t see from where my brother was sitting. My brother said he could see fine and I was lying. My mother agreed and reaffirmed I would ruin my eyes. I insisted that I. could. not. see. And we enjoyed that merry-go-round a few more times until the penny dropped and she made me sit beside my brother and try to read the text. I couldn’t. I think she nearly fainted.
“You need glasses,” confirmed the optician.
Suddenly, I was like, oooh a thing is happening. It was exciting, until I saw my mother’s face.
“Sophia, you’re going to give me a heart attack.”
I think the optician was suprised at this reaction. He reassured my mother that glasses are a good thing and it’s very normal for kids to need them. But I know my mother was running through her head at what point her perfectly sighted son and now deformed daughter had diverged paths. Parents are anxious creatures.
And nobody be hard on my mum. We now have a female Disney main character who wears glasses. Back then, only the nerd wore them before their glow-ups and then they got the boy. But dating is haram so I would be a nerd forever. That one episode of Arthur is the only media I remember to actually depict what it’s like to get glasses.
Not to mention that Pakistanis at the time had so much baggage around girls wearing glasses (They probably still do. Like how weird is it to be a 9 year old and suddenly you’re hearing about how girls with glasses are less likely to get married because there’s something “genetically” wrong with them. Like what the actual fudge? Not my mother obviously, but her fear was around me being exposed to that garbage. Of people judging her perfect little girl.)
Let me illustrate my point. We left the opticians office, prescription in hand to go buy glasses. I could tell my mother was trying to adjust to it all. Maybe she was trying to convince herself I didn’t need them. Maybe we needed a second opinion. I felt her tension. In the hallway, we saw another brown mother/daughter pair and my mother approached them, looking for information or reassurance. She explained the news we had received and the other mother confirmed that her daughter also needed glasses. But we noticed she wasn’t wearing any.
“Oh, I make her drink carrot juice to improve her vision, I don’t let her wear glasses because then she’ll get used to them and her eyes will become worse.”
Yes, you read right. And although I couldn’t see clearly, the girl looked miserable. A miserable, blurry little thing.
My mother was floored. I could tell all hesitation had evaporated in the flame of her rage. The idea that a mother would actually deny her daughter glasses because she would rather leave her blind than looking like a nerd. And as for her pseudoscience about glasses making things worse? If you’ve heard this let me explain: Children have tiny heads that grow. Their prescription changes accordingly, often getting worse. Then it settles as their heads finish growing. It’s not the glasses, it’s their tiny heads. Unfortunately for me though, my mother did take the carrot juice tip (Vitamin A, you know!) and although I got my glasses, I also drank nothing but carrot juice for what felt like a year.
The four of us, mum, dad, brother and I, went to buy my glasses as a family. We began to peruse the children’s section and I was self-conscious for the first time. It felt like an important decision and this was new to all of us. My brother had been using humour, sometimes at my expense, to deal with the situation but he came to my aid and just told me to pick what I wanted. They were my glasses after all. Nobody else would wear them. My parents concurred and I felt so happy.
I don’t know what to tell you. There’s something about them being my glasses that made me so happy. I picked these round, marbled pink frames. Hideous ones.
The day I got my glasses was a good one. On the car ride home all I could do was point at store signs and road signs and read them out loud. I could suddenly see what I’d been missing. My parents were incredibly pleased and quite horrified that it had gotten so bad before they’d noticed. My brother was amazed that I could actually read (MY feelings Habib, NOT yours).
If you want to know how my class reacted when I got back to school… I mean just watch the Arthur episode. It was basically that. My parents, however, were my biggest advocates in my community. I know my mother became the voice of reason for a lot of mothers who were nervous about letting their daughters wear glasses over the years and I’m so glad for it.
Years passed, and my face began to feel incomplete without glasses. It still kinda does. I wore contacts part-time for a few years in my mid-twenties and that was a nice experience. But in the back of my mind, I’ve always known that I would get LASIK. I was initially worried it was the carrot juice mother’s voice in my head, but honestly, it’s a culmination of small things.
I’d like to be able to see from the moment I wake up. I’d like my shower time to not be blurry. I’d like to not have nose marks. I’d like to be able to see in the rain. I’d like to not deal with contacts breaking in my eye. I’d like to walk into a warm room from the cold and not have my vision steam up. I’d like to wear a face mask without my vision steaming up should there be a pandemic to live through. I’d like for the time I spend on my eye makeup to lead to a full experience of my creative majesty by others. I’d like to slowly get cosier and cosier on the sofa until I am one with it, without my glasses painfully pressing against the side of my nose.
I want to see.
A few months ago, I went for a routine check-up and mentioned to the optician that I was eventually going to get LASIK one day. And she was kind enough to press my face up against reality.
“You know, if you want to get LASIK, you should get it sooner rather than later. I mean you’re likely to need reading glasses in your 40s so you’ll get 10 glasses-free years.”
I had a flashback to when my parents first got their reading glasses… in their 40s. I would goblin dance around them yelling, “BAHAHAHA! JOIN ME BLIND PEASANTS!” My brother, still with his 20/20 vision slowly backed away from us all as though we had some Victorian wasting disease.
“So, if I want LASIK, what do I do?”
“I could put you in for a free consultation.”
And here we are! It was both impulsive but also the stars aligned. I was on a career break and getting back to myself. I got a 24-month interest free payment plan and don’t have to pay a massive lump sum. I’m getting older and would like my 10 glasses-free years please and thank you.
But more than that, I’m going through a positively juice lil’ looking after me phase. And LASIK is thematically appropriate for that.
Let me know if you want me to write about what getting LASIK was actually like. You get two posts this week so I can have next week off to recover. Follow this blog if you want to be notified of the next post or join my mailing list below.
And thank you for indulging me. I hope you’re doing well, wherever you are.
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