Saturday, 28 January 2012

28th January 2002 - A Day That Changed My Life

In January 2002 I began keeping a diary. My father had done so for decades and despite many previous stalled attempts, I decided to give it another go. This time it proved more successful and my diary ran for over 7 years until the very day I became Mayor of Cardigan in May 2009 (to my regret, the sheer workload that came with the role obliterated any time I had to continue with the diary).

I've therefore been looking back with some nostalgia at those first few entries a whole decade ago. I was a second year student in Aberystwyth University living in Pantycelyn Halls of Residence and enjoying a new leash of life through the new confidence it had given me - a confidence that I had been lacking in secondary school.

Contact Lenses
Within weeks of that new year, and noted for posterity in that first diary, was a day that really did change my life completely.

I'd been mulling the possibility for some time but had rejected the call but on January 28th 2002, I decided to make the leap and attend a fitting for contact lenses at the Aberystwyth branch at Raynors.

Amidst the activities of what was already a busy day, in the middle of my report back on that day, I wrote in my diary:
"Then to Raynor's for a 4pm contact lenses appointment. Took ages to put in and take out but much quicker at 2nd attempt. Quite happy with them - now just need to get used to them".
It was a relatively mundane diary entry for what would prove to be a life changing decision.

The appointment itself really must've been a strength of patience for the poor woman helping me because it really did take an age for me to put the lenses in at first effort. By ages, I mean well over an hour! Putting one lense in and then the other before removing them one at a time. Of course, the whole concept of putting your finger into your eyes is one that makes anyone flinch and on this first occasion, I did so continuously! She had the patience of a saint and in fairness had probably seen it time and time again with first time contact lenses users.

A New Mark Cole
My diary over the following weeks included many updates on the slow journey of my getting used to wearing the contact lenses and despite some setbacks, I held firm and it wasn't long before the processes were like second nature to me.

10 years on, I still wear contact lenses religiously and am thankful for that day when I decided to make the jump.

Why the overhype? Well put simply, you'd need to have known me beforehand I expect to understand. Only my friends who have known me for more than 10 years will remember me before I wore contact lenses. My eyesight has always been poor and since I was a child I'd always worn rather thick glasses - your 'Harry Potter specks' if you like. It was something I think that was always on my mind going through those always challenging years in secondary school. Though a pleasant and attentive pupil, I certainly lacked in a level of self-confidence in school.

Going to University changed that significantly as it gave me an opportunity to meet new friends and to reach out beyond the levels to which I had previously. But still there must've been an underlying sense of unease with myself because otherwise, why would I have wanted to have a contact lense trial in the first place?

I can not underestimate how those contact lenses changed my life. Suddenly, from my small sink-side mirror in Room 210 in Pantycelyn, I was looking at a new Mark Cole. He didn't wear glasses but instead looked as he would've when he was born. It may read as an odd thing here, but suddenly I felt as if I looked attractive - something I expect I had never felt previously. Suddenly, I became much more comfortable within my own skin and that gave me greater confidence in how I lived my life from there on. It meant I could now go on daredevil rollercoaster rides and see where I was going! It meant I could have my haircut and see the progress in live time and not just hope that when I put my glasses on at the end that all would be fine! Little things and bigger things, it revolutionised how I saw myself and therefore how I lived my life as a result.

It's odd how something relatively trivial had such a large impact on my life but when speaking to friends, I have often spoken about how the day I first wore contact lenses was the first day of a new life.

That day was 28th January 2002. It's been a great 10 years and I can look back today in particular at a choice very, very well made.


  1. I never had contacts but having laser eye surgery was as liberating

  2. What a great post mark. As teacher in secondary school I see many kids who lack that confidence. Any idea how you could've been supported better?