Earlier in the school year, someone I had just met told me, “being deaf must suck”. I’ll admit I was initially taken aback by her comment because truthfully, no one had ever actually said that to my face before. Nonetheless, I quickly gathered my thoughts, and simply told her, “No, it actually doesn’t”-mostly out of wanting to prove her wrong. I named some things that I could do that hearing people cannot, like sleep through a thunderstorm. But, she nodded her head in indifference.
I could have come up with a better example, but I was more struck with the fact that people actually feel bad for people who are deaf. Of course, being deaf can suck. I struggle to survive group conversations amidst noisy classroom settings, I won’t always catch that joke someone says to me in the hallway and the joke is lost once I say “What”, and I face misconceptions by being labeled as shy or rude becauseI won’t always hear and respond to something.
But really, there are many perks to being deaf.
For those who are hearing, can you do any of the following?
- Sleep soundly during summer mornings while your neighbor loudly mows the lawn or chops wood at 6AM.
- Ignore people of your choosing (; or tune everything out…
- Read a book amidst being in a loud, crowded airport (or any place noisy and crowded)
- Lip-read and/or carry on a conversation without being able to hear your converser
- Not be awoken at 2AM by your roommate
- Sleep soundly while your parents host a party until 3AM
- Study for a huge test in the company of loud, obnoxious people
- Sleep through a thunderstorm
- Identify the owner of clothing left at your house (because of your enhanced sense of smell)
- Ignore your dad’s annoying, god-awful singing voice (which everyone else actually likes)
- Ignore your mom yelling at you (don’t do this)
- Take an exam in a room that is right near a construction zone
- Successfully annoy others when you are unable to hear a strange, drunken man singing and screaming in the city streets
- Literally, turn off your hearing WHENEVER your want to
Now, I’m not trying to be negative, arrogant, or bratty. I just want to offer the positives of being deaf. I’m so sick of having people feel bad for me because I can’t always hear perfectly. (Un)fortunately, this is the card I have been dealt with, and I will face many drawbacks of being deaf for the rest of my life. It’s my reality. But I’m certainly not going to dwell on, “Oh I can’t do this and that. Poor me.” Why focus on the negatives when you have many positives? Learn to love and appreciate who you are.
I must include one quote in this post that has resonated with me throughout my life. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Honestly, I did go through a brief time of feeling bad for myself. I grew so overwhelmed by everyone’s ability to hear so easily, to piggyback on each other’s comments or jokes, to carry on conversations from far distances, to perfectly understand and talk to everyone. I struggled with my confidence because I felt that I wasn’t good enough. I felt that I couldn’t be someone’s friend if I couldn’t hear and understand him or her perfectly in the way others can. I even, for a short time, avoided talking to new people because I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to understand them, and they would end up thinking I’m shy, dumb, or rude.
But my mom, thank god, told me to snap out of it, and read Eleanor’s quote to me. As soon as she told me that, something inside me changed. I realized that I was letting others make me feel insecure about myself; I was giving them permission to do so. But now, I don’t. Or at least, I try not to.
So, enjoy and appreciate every flaw, nook, and cranny you have…because that’s what makes you unique. And loved.