BE YOU

Don't be ashamed, find yourself, you are beautiful.

FIND THE BEAUTY IN EXPERIENCES

As we already know…. I am hearing impaired and I have lived in two different communities. I have had the opportunity to be part of two worlds, the deaf world and the hearing world. During the summer of 2010,  I got the chance to experience something remarkable, an experience that has changed my perspective on life.  I had the opportunity to try out for the women’s USA deaf Olympic soccer team.  The tryouts were at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.  I traveled there alone and roomed with twenty girls, with different levels of hearing disability.  Some could only sign, some had cochlear implants, and others had hearing aids. All twenty of us, despite our hearing issues or our speech, shared a unique characteristic that most people do not share.  For the first time in my life I met a woman who had chosen just to use sign language and be part of the deaf community.  I became friends with a girl, Renee, who could not afford hearing aides or a cochlear implant, so she lived each day without hearing.  Even though it was four days, the friendship I shared with Renee was unique and unforgettable.

When we played soccer I could not wear my hearing aides, and as a result I immediately felt isolated, as if I was in a different world. But I was in a different world; it was the deaf community, without any sound and the silence at times paralyzed and confused me. And in this world, the solution was clear—I could just be myself and not have to play any social games. So that weekend, on and off the soccer field, I took a small step and put my hair up, not caring what “those things are in my ear.” 

Through my whole life I also have been part of the hearing world, so sharing these experiences with these deaf women athletes was amazing. I marveled at their way of communicating, through signing and facial expressions. I could remember asking myself everyday, how are they happy? Where does their happiness come from?  Everyday we asked ourselves what does it mean to be happy and live a satisfying life. Does being a part of a community make us happy? In the end I think these woman athletes were happy because they were part of their own community. I sometimes felt pity for them, but they had formed their own community, with its own rules and support for each other. It was a beautiful experience and has made me see the beauty in the deaf world, and learn to accept my own disability. Life is filled with beauty, you are filled with beauty, be yourself, be happy, be confidence, because you are beautiful. 

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REFLECTIONS ON MY APPEARANCE

How do I respond when I am judged based on my appearance? That is a very complicated question. It is complicated because my appearance is complicated.  On one level, I appear normal, or at least I try to look normal.  But on another level my appearance is affected by my deafness, because I wear hearing aides that are part of me, and help me hear and communicate and be part of society.

If you see my hearing aides, how will you judge me?  If I hide my hearing aides, how will you judge me? If I hide my hearing aides, and you treat me like I am normal, how should I respond to you? If I don’t hide my hearing aides, and you treat me differently, how should I respond to you?  Can I be honest with my appearance in society, and will society treat me fairly and accept my disability? These are difficult issues, and all during my life I have tried to deal with the obstacles involved with being deaf.

My mother raised me to focus on being myself and not to worry what other people think about my appearance. I know that as long as I am a good person, I will stay on the right path.  I think we are all judged on our appearance on a daily basis, whether it is when you first meet someone or just when a random person is looking at you. You are still being judged.  That is how we are all raised, and we cannot help it; it is part of our nature. People are constantly being judged and trying to improve themselves.  

There is a novel I read where people send in their secrets anonymously to an author, and the author said that there are two kinds of secrets: those we keep from others and we hide from ourselves. In my case, I consider my deafness a secret, and sometimes I try to hide my secret from others, so they do not know my appearance involves being deaf, and other times I acknowledge my deafness to myself, and let the outside world know.

My appearance has many aspects. If I cover my ears with my hair and sit quietly I appear normal. If you know me, you would notice that I never wear my hair up in public and when I do for soccer I cover my ears.  If I speak, however, I sound and speak differently from most people, and I have trouble with certain sounds like “sh” and “ch” and when a word has an “s” at the end.  So if I want to hide that part of my “appearance,” like when you are first meeting me, I will not speak very often, and will listen.  Or, if someone asks me if I have a lisp or wear a retainer, sometimes I say yes. Some people even ask to see my retainer and if they do I open my mouth and pretend to have one behind my right molar, and do you know that most people say they see the retainer that does not exist.  So what should I make of that type of response to my disability? Does it mean that when it comes to appearances, people see what they want to see?

So if I am honest now with my appearance and you know that I am deaf because you can see my hearing aids, will you respond honestly and directly and in a normal manner? Or will you view my hearing aids as a “turn off” and not accept me as a normal  women? And maybe the answer is at this point in my life I no longer care how you will respond, because the people who respond the right way will be the people who show their true colors and who will matter the most to me. After all we as the people are filled beauty, we as humans are beautiful. 

SO THE WORLD MAY HEAR

Because ALL of you, are filled with beauty. 

CONFIDENCE

 

I spent this summer teaching deaf pre-school children and learned more about my own experience as a deaf person.

I taught these children in the same grade school that I had attended, where I was a young child dealing with my disability.  When I was their age I hid my hearing aids, and never spoke about my problem. These kids were different, and they were happy, giggling and open about their limitations.

   There was one girl, however, who reminded me of myself.  She was losing her confidence. She was the only deaf child in a “mainstream” school and she wanted to hide her hearing aids. One day she asked me whether she should be proud of her hearing aids, and whether she should wear her hair up or down

My mind flashed back ten years to my younger self, and then forward to the present. I thought about how I could help to change her life. I told her everything that I wished I had done, and I told her that she should never be ashamed of being hearing impaired. She smiled at me, and thanked me and for a few days during the summer she did wear her hair up and showed her hearing aides. Would she continue? Maybe. But I will always think about her, and appreciate how far I have come, and how much further I have to go. Beauty is Confidence and you are confidence because you are beautiful from the inside to the outside.

SILENCE

Silence is beautiful, for a moment everything and everyone becomes a parasite. You escape, and begin to wonder… Silence is beautiful to those who understand, each moment of Silence is beautiful and so are you. 

SHARE

Share your deafness, let your voice be heard, you can ask me anything, advice, questions, anything.