Interview by: Kristen Witucki, College Success Program Curriculum and Content Editor
The College Success Program is highlighting how the pandemic is affecting individuals in our blind and low vision communities. CSP Mentor, Rachel Grider spoke about her experiences via interview with Kristen Witucki in June 2020.
Kristen Witucki: How has the pandemic changed your life?
Rachel Grider: I thought I'd have much more time! I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish: starting a YouTube channel, making recordings, writing. Because of the slower pace of life, I began to feel more inspired and figure out what needs to change. The pandemic oddly helped me to focus on what is most important to me.
Kristen: Can you explain more about that?
Rachel: I realized I love music, and I know that's weird to say, because I studied music. But with some experiences I've had before, I lost some of the original joy it gave me. I associated singing with stress. Practice only made me feel inadequate.
Now during the COVID crisis, when I have long hours with myself, I started to set aside some time each day when I would just do music for fun, I would not care, I would just sing or listen to music. The only purpose of doing this was to help me to feel joyful. I pulled out some of the music I used to listen to in college, and it reminded me of the excitement it used to give me when I was younger and less jaded. It also helped me to step out of my comfort zone. I started to learn more about myself and my capabilities.
Kristen: What are some of the new projects you are doing?
Rachel: I'm doing a big virtual choir for NFB (National Federation of the Blind) right now. I didn't think about doing this three months ago. The pandemic has forced me to try things like that.
Kristen: What has changed in the blindness community now that everything is virtual?
Rachel: [Now that everything is virtual] you are on even footing with sighted people, so there is not a stigma about blindness over Zoom. In some ways, it's not as good because [people who are blind or low vision] can hid while using Zoom. You aren't showing people that you can use mobility, but in another way it's cool because when you're with sighted people on Zoom, you can be more yourself, because you don't worry about them judging your blindness.
Kristen: Is there anything else that has changed for you since the beginning of the pandemic?
Rachel: In some ways I'm busier than I was before. And procrastinating is no longer an option. Now that the pandemic has happened I'm stuck here, I can't go anywhere, I'm excited to just be able to move forward again. I feel like I need to stop putting things off and just explore more.