Sundeep shares his journey from being challenged to being a stand-up comic

6 minutes

I am Sundeep Rao, a 33-year-old guy from the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore. I have completed my bachelors from the UK. My family consists of my father, mother, and my elder sister. Today, I want to share my story with you as I want to motivate you to keep up the fighting spirit whenever you feel low and lose hope in life.

At the age of eight, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Macular Degeneration. It is a series of inherited eye disorders that causes problems with your central vision, which may be blurry or distorted. It affects children and young adults. But none in my family suffered from it. So when my family came to know of my problem they were very worried thinking of my future. They were worried about the social consequences and my well being.

After the diagnosis, a lot of things changed for me.

I started having problems with my sight. I needed assistance in whatever I did. I was always dependent on someone or the other for any of my needs. Everything was feeling faded for my eyesight. I could not walk freely. I could not go to play with my friends. Depression hit me. I felt helpless. There were times when I used to cry questioning the almighty why did he do this to me.

Not only did my eyesight affect my life, people’s behaviour towards me changed, they started treating me very differently. This made me feel more crippled and helpless. I hated it when others pitied me.

So, I was transferred to a small school where I can get ample care. My parents thought it’s better to admit me to a small school with less number of students. But my family underwent a lot of stress. They continued consulting the best doctors they could. The second major change in my life was, my visits to eye doctors became regular and a rigorous treatment began.

Slowly and gradually I started to accept my condition. I told myself, there’s no point in being depressed over something that is not under my control. So, I started working towards making my life better. I learned to fight my difficulty. I started learning new thing to adapt to my condition.

My family and friends have been very supportive throughout this phase. They helped me manage everything. After finishing my school, I went abroad for my graduation in political science. As a teenager, sometimes I would day dream of getting up on stage, crack a few jokes and make people laugh. But I never considered it as a career option.

After completion of studies, I took up a job in an IT company but in 3 years, I felt like I have reached a dead point and no more felt any enthusiasm to continue the same job. In the meantime, I discovered my liking for comedy. I understood it gives me immense pleasure to make people laugh. I realised this is all I ever wanted to do. I realised I want the world to know me as a stand-up artist. When I informed my parents about my interest, they understood me and asked me to follow my heart. So, I quit my job and began to focus full-time on improving my skills as a stand-up artist.

Every day I worked towards reaching my goal. Initially, my jokes were not as good as I wanted it to be. It took me some time to realise that I was too uptight and robotic. I thought I was just not natural on stage. Finally, in 2010 I had my first show as a stand-up comedian. The crowd cheered me throughout. They liked my content and the way I presented myself. I could hear claps everywhere. This show built up my confidence. With every show that I did, I learned something new. Things started falling into place and I enjoyed making people happy.

In 2013 I had a special show, named ‘out of sight’ which was staged at Jagriti Theatre, Varthur Road. It was a grand success. Now, I am India’s only partially blind comic. I gig across Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Dubai, and Singapore. I do a lot of shows and I feel blessed when people love my work. Now, I plan to travel the world and talk about my life.

I love performing on stage. I feel I can get things off my chest on stage. The things about society that frustrate me, like common mob’s weird behaviour with people like us who has some kind of disabilities. It also gives me a platform to talk about my eyesight or lack of it. While I initially hesitant of talking about the issue, today I can laugh at myself. A lot of the issues I face as a partially blind person can be translated into comedy. It is more healing that way.

I have a simple message for everyone, we all have different kinds of struggle, it may be social, mental or economical but we should never quit fighting. We should accept the struggle and face it. Everyone has something special in themselves. It’s not necessary for everyone to be super ambitious.

I would be happy to connect with you on my website, www.sundeeprao.com

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