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Denial. The only feeling I felt possible. There was no way that the words that just came out of that doctor’s mouth were true. I mean, my entire life’s dreams and goals were based around this small detail. There was no way that I could be colorblind. My whole life plan would have to be rearranged just because of this diagnosis.
Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a pilot. I don’t know exactly what appealed to me, but it definitely caught on quick. At a rather young age, I had my educational plan and decision that I was going to become a commercial airline pilot. The only part I hadn’t decided on was rather I would join the Air Force or pay for my own education. If I persisted and worked hard enough, my life was set and I would be able to focus on one career and never have to worry about another.
When my family found out about this decision, they supported me as much as they could. Of course, when I was younger, they supported me by giving me toy airplanes just to increase my interest in them. As I grew older, my parents bought me flying lessons at a small local airport where I actually got to learn all the controls and the basics to flying a plane. Also, I got to fly the plane while in air. All these experiences only contributed more and more to my desire to become a pilot.
“Zack, what color is that guy’s shirt over there?” My mom used to ask questions like this when she first became suspicious of my color sight.
“It’s green, mom, I can see colors.” I would reply, confidently.
“Uhh, Zack, his shirt is red.”
“No it’s not…dad, what color is that guy’s shirt over there?” Of course, I was always in denial about being colorblind.
“Yeah, his shirt’s red, Zack.” He replied.
After a couple years of my mom being suspicious, she became worried and finally decided to make an appointment for me to have a colorblind test because she knew the importance of pilots being able to see colors. I agreed to take the test (not that I had much of a say in whether I would or not) just to prove my parents wrong. Little did I know that on this day, I would have one of the most devastating realizations of my life.
The memory of this day in my 7th grade year after school is still vivid in my mind. The test seemed simple enough: You start with one colored peg and you put the other pegs in order of how closely related their colors are. I put the pegs in order of how my eyes interpreted the colors and I was fairly confident in my result. The doctor then went on to check how I did and was stunned at the results.
“Well, you got 10% correct, just the first three out of the 30 are in the correct position. Also, you placed blue pegs with pinks and green pegs with reds. Well, let’s try a couple other tests.” I could tell the doctor didn’t want to break the news to me so straight-forward because he knew of my desire to become a pilot. Also, he thought that taking other tests would provide different outcomes, so he offered them to me.
I went on to fail the next couple tests miserably. When the doctor announced the news to me, I was in denial. My whole life, I had been planning on becoming a pilot and soaring through the skies. All my hopes and dreams had been crushed and I refused to believe it. This realization would devastate most of what I had planned for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to believe it.
Of course, I eventually accepted the fact that I could never become a pilot. My new dilemma was to take on new dreams and start planning for my career, which continues to be a dilemma for me. After all, my pilot hopes had been blindly crushed.