Bobbie Hickey: ‘I may be blind, but this could happen to anyone’

‘Going to college has been an enduring ambition, but I do not feel at home there’

Bobbie Hickey: ‘I wish I could sit here and tell you all that everything has gone to plan, but the truth is, it hasn’t.’ Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times

Hello! Welcome to another Irish summer – where temperatures reach mediocre heights and everyone’s consumption of choc-ices goes through the roof.

A weekly column by writers with a disability.

My name is Bobbie Hickey and, for the last year, I have been sharing a brief insight into my life as a visually impaired young woman living in Ireland. I have touched on humorous topics such as how to make a sandwich, other weeks I speak fondly of my four-legged friend Zoe, but at times I have delved deep into myself and the hearts of all disabled people, and have brought attention to some forgotten areas of disabled persons' lives.

Today, sadly, I rewind over the last year as we have reached the end of the Platform Series (a weekly column by writers with a disability).

College was something that I had looked forward to for the previous eight years

Every year, everyone goes through changes and milestones – you don’t have to be a toddler to experience those things! Over the last 12 months, I have started college, moved out and have overcome some big fears – all of which have left me a changed person.


I wish I could sit here and tell you all that everything has gone to plan, but the truth is, it hasn’t – in fact, very little has.

College was something that I had looked forward to for the previous eight years; having had a rough time in school, to make me feel better many people would say, “oh, don’t worry, college is where you’ll shine”, or “you’ll find your place in college”. Unfortunately, despite mine and everyone else’s best efforts, this was not the case – I do not feel totally at home in college.

Naturally, the first few weeks were very hard, especially with the added pressure of not living at home anymore. This was normal, but what struck me was how dull it felt being there everyday when the adjustment period was over. Of course, I am only in first year, so things can change and it is never too late to fit in, especially in college. But with regards to this year my desired “college life” did not become reality.

Everyone is faced with fears they need to overcome at some point, it’s just part of life. Mine, came in the form of Zoe – a 17.2hh (Translation: very tall!) horse. Horse riding has been a passion and the centre of my life for as long as I can remember, but I have never been so terrified of doing it as I have been this year. My guess is because my expectations for myself and my riding goals have gone up, which is good, but also carries pressure. Much like anything, once you shift the goal posts nothing remains the same, so this year riding became more work and less of a time to get head space. Now, months in to the new journey I have settled into the new way of working and the fear has (most of the time) changed into determination.

This time last year, I thought I would be further along then I am now – in terms of riding and college life. What I was expecting to happen didn’t, which led to a time of disappointment and anger because here I am again, feeling like I don’t fit in. Now, I realise that this is not the case. I have my own “place” were I fit in and were my people are – the yard, and were I grew up with the best group of girlfriends anyone could ask for. I do fit in in college in the sense that I love the course – no my social calendar is not booked with a new club every week, but that doesn’t bother me. I have had to move back home after finally accepting that the accommodation on campus just was not for me. Coming to terms with all of this was really hard for me being the stubborn person I am.

Next time you find yourself disappointed with how something didn't go to plan, try see the brighter side

I am blind, but this could happen to anyone. Many people end up in situations they never thought they would be in, regardless of how much they can see. I just did it with a blindfold on!

So next time you find yourself disappointed with how something didn’t go to plan, try see the brighter side – now you have a fresh slate, you have learned lessons and you are stronger.

Thank you for reading my rambles!

I bid you all fair well . . . for now.

Platform Series: Bobbie Hickey
1) Making a sandwich when you're blind
2) Not getting the points I wanted
3) Benefits to being visually impaired
4) I'm not blind. I'm Bobbie Hickey
5) College with no friends, and no eyes
6) People freeze when I approach them
7) Why I mind needing help
8) The best teacher I have ever had
9) 'This could happen to anyone'