I was really lucky to have my sister and an older brother ahead of me in school. Teachers knew by the time I got to their classroom that I was from “that” family. None of my teachers ever commented on my eyes, my nationality, or asked me to open my eyes wider. I am eternally grateful to my older sister for paving the way. I’m curious if her experiences were different at school.

The most common question I got as a child was “can’t you open your eyes?” It drove me nuts. I always thought to myself, “if I could open my eyes, don’t you think I would, you idiot?” I frequently got annoyed and frustrated when people asked “why are your eyes so small,” “why are your eyes like that,” or “why don’t you just open your eyes?” It was uncomfortable mostly because people weren’t satisfied with the answer that this was just how I am. It is fascinating why my appearance seemed to matter so much to other people. I was perfectly comfortable with the skin I was in and I wasn’t self conscious at all. I only felt uncomfortable when people asked me about my eyes. I knew I looked different, but I could never understand why they were asking. I always thought that’s just how I was, why couldn’t people see that and accept that.

For some reason, I will always remember sitting in a pizza place not far from school after a cross country practice and someone who was a few years older than me in school asking how I could see. I think this is so engrained in my memory because by the time I was in high school, everyone mostly knew me and my siblings and that was just “how we were.” I think I was surprised and uncomfortable to have someone single me out for something that I just felt was a part of who I was. Funny as much as I love attention, I did not enjoy being in the hot seat with everyone looking at my eyes.