Meet Holly Tuke, author of the award-winning blog, Life of a Blind Girl. Here she writes about how she came to view the cane as a tool for freedom and independence. #LoveMyCane

Using a cane can be daunting, but it can bring you so much independence and freedom, the positives most definitely outweigh the negatives. It prevents you from crashing into obstacles (most of the time), warns you of any bumps or lumps in the pavement whilst you’re walking and most importantly, it makes people aware and then they will hopefully be mindful. The cane is often the first thing that people see, whilst this can be scary and frustrating at times, it lets them know that they basically need to watch where they’re going. It lets people know that you have a visual  impairment, this may not seem great and be an unwanted scenario but it can be helpful sometimes, especially if you need a bit of assistance. It is a symbol of your disability, you may portray that in a negative way but flip the coin and know that it is something to be proud of.

Trust me, the cane makes life easier

For me, my cane is an extension of me, it’s my independence, my navigation tool and my way of getting around this sighted world we live in.

I haven’t always been comfortable using my cane

for years the thought of using my cane filled me with dread and anxiety and I did everything I could to get away from using it. I felt like my cane made me stand out from my peers, I felt like my disability was more visible and that people wouldn’t look beyond my vision impairment. I thought that I would stick out like a sore thumb and that people would just see my cane, not the person using it.

I didn’t want to stand out from the crowd even more than I already did, I wanted to be like everyone else.

Unless you have a visual impairment, it isn’t the norm to use a cane, and I certainly thought that when I was younger but I soon realised that you don’t have to conform to those norms, especially when it can enrich your life in so many ways.

Learning to accept my cane

Over time, I realised the benefits of using the cane and realised that the positives outweighed the negatives. I learned that my independence was the most important thing and that became my focus.

As I began to really love, accept and embrace my vision impairment, I found that also transpired to my thoughts and feelings of using the cane and I started to use it more often. 

Using my cane at university

Before I started University, I had orientation and mobility training to learn my way around campus so that I could get around independently, and that obviously meant using my cane. To say that I was terrified to start using it at University was probably an understatement.

I had previously had some rather bad experiences with Mobility Officers in the past, so I was very nervous to do training with another Mobility Officer but that lady turned out to be the most incredible Mobility Officer that I could have ever asked for, she was patient, she made the sessions enjoyable and she completely changed my perspective on the cane, 

The fear of using my cane gradually faded away

The thing that once filled me with dread turned into a very important part of my life and became something that I couldn’t live without.

It took me a while to feel comfortable in using my cane, but I started to realise how much of an impact it could have on my life and that there were more positives than negatives. 

You are not alone on your cane journey

Everyone goes on their own journey of learning to love their cane and that’s ok, we all have thoughts and feelings towards it, whether positive or negative, but it is important to remember that we are never alone and there are others that have those thoughts and feelings, and that are on the same journey as us.

As I started to connect with the online visual impairment community, I soon realised that those feelings that I had towards using my cane were completely normal and that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way, I wish I knew that when I was younger. I want other people in that exact situation to know that you will get there one day, you will soon find the positives and start to use your cane a lot more and you won’t look back. You will get through it, you will overcome that fear and start to understand the benefits your cane can bring to your life. It takes a lot of hard work and determination but it will be worth it.

I now pick up my trusty purple cane and use it without a second thought because it is my independence and no one can take that away from me.

This post was written by Life Of a Blind Girl, for our Love My Cane Campaign, which is all about encouraging visually impaired young people to think more positively about their canes. Visit our Love My Cane campaign page to find out more.