Things My Hearing Impairment Has Taught Me

This week is Deaf Awareness Week and I'm going to be straight with you - I didn't realise till I saw it trending on Twitter, Monday morning. Being hearing impaired is something that I've had mixed feelings about, only because of certain comments i received from small minded bullies at school and over the years I've grown some understanding of my hearing impairment and just embraced it as who i am.

I've been hard of hearing since birth and I got my first hearing aids at the age of 7 and I had never been so excited! Before getting my first hearing aids, I had countless of doctors and hospital appointments, along with my mum being branded 'a over reactive parent'

 I was able to hear much clearer. Of course along the way i subconsciously learnt to read lips. The first thing we did after I got my glittery hearing aids, my nana, mum, grandad and I along with my twin sister took a trip to a quiet beach and it was the FIRST time I heard the sea! I couldn't stop smiling according to my mum. So what has my hearing impairment taught me.

1) Having a hearing loss can be isolating but it doesn't stop you from having a voice and using yours.

2) You don't need to feel embarrassed if you miss hear a word or struggling to understand the full conversation, don't let people be little you because of it - call them out on it

3) We can always teach people to have a better understanding of hearing loss as well as learning more about it ourselves.Of course we have the art of lip reading. Well… most of the time. Those with hearing loss are pretty skilled with lip reading.

4) They’re my own kind of fashion statement, even though they’re typically hidden by my hair. But they do not define me. Ever since i first got my hearing aids at 7 years old, i was excited to show off the pretty molds which were usually purple or sparkly. Of course when i get home, i like to take them off to give my ears a break, as it is a daily struggle to hear.

5) Keeping my hair down at all times just to hide the hearing aids from everyone else gets really inconvenient. It isn't worth the hair falling in your eyes, the stifling heat in the summer and the insecurity of having people stare. Accept that you have hearing aids, and let them stare. it is not worth the discomfort.

6) There are a few different social groups we can get involved in. There's the close-knit deaf community, the people (deaf/hearing) who have friends that are both deaf and hearing, or the hearing community. It mainly depends on our hearing ability, but trying each group out really helps to determine where you feel most comfortable in. I fall somewhere in the middle, having a combination of both deaf and hearing friends, because I like being able to speak orally, but at the same time, there's much more patience in the deaf community.

7. You will forever hold a grudge with your teacher for refusing to elaborate on a word during a spelling test because you couldn't understand if she said "woman" or "women" or just not pronouncing the word clearly or even standing still so you can lip read.

8. I don't always feel safe walking out on the street alone after dusk because I can't hear anyone behind me. I'm also super wary of people sitting next to me on public transport, being approached by strangers and generally being near questionable-looking people.

9. What having a hearing impairment has taught me is manners. Beforehand, I never thought about the way I spoke to people or how I would communicate with people. Now I am so conscious of it and I always use good eye contact and ensure the person can hear every word I say; whether they have a hearing impairment or not as manners should count for everyone! - Tea With Nicole

10. Sometimes I feel like I’m between worlds. I’m not hearing and I’m not deaf.  Most people assume that I hear just like everybody else when they see me out. I still talk quite well, as my hearing loss didn't affect my speech.

11. I wouldn’t change my hearing loss. Yes, I have bad days when I’m angry that I can’t communicate or understand people all the time. Yes, there are times when I’m upset that my family don't always face me when communicating or shouting from room to room. Yes, sometimes I’m scared of what is to come. However, I wouldn’t change my hearing loss.  It makes me who I am. It gave me the strength to advocate for myself and work towards the things I want. It forced me to push past barriers I didn’t even know existed in my life. Overall it makes me a better more tolerant, open minded person and I love that.

12. Having a hearing loss is exhausting. When you have a hearing loss, hearing takes work. This is hard for those with normal hearing as hearing is so automatic for them. And the best way i can explain it is as a game board from Wheel Of Fortune. Some of the letters are filled in and the others are blank. The listener is trying to make sense of the incomplete and assorted sounds he or she is hearing and turn these sounds into a word or phrase that make sense into context which isn't easy, i guess my point being is that I'm learning, I'm doing my best with what i have and communicating the best i can.

13. It's not the end of the world. Wearing hearing aids and having a hearing loss doesn't change my personality or make me any different, sure I'm unique to everyone else but we're all the same. I still like getting emotionally attached to fictional characters and i love Disney just like everyone else. I have dreams and aspirations like everyone else and half the time I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

14. I'm actually pretty strong while been faced with prejudice half of my life. Growing up with a hearing loss and then dealing with a mental illness alongside it. I shouldn't feel insecure about my hearing loss but it's totally OK to feel insecure as I'm only human. This is my strength, not my weakness - sure, maybe I have crappy hearing, but that’s only made me more patient, more appreciative and more observant. Every flaw comes with its perks. Every weakness comes with a strength. 

15. If you catch someone staring at you, just smile and say hello. Sometimes the look 'oh she has hearing aids but she doesn't sound deaf' on their faces will make you chuckle and occasionally roll your eyes.

16.  How to really read people. In a world of what feels like total isolation sometimes I've learnt how to tune into people and everything but their words. I can usually accurately tell how someone is feeling, what they're thinking or if they're not being entirely honest. It's super useful and it's shown me that you don't need words and sounds or the ability to hear to really 'get' someone, and I value that most of all! - Calamity Ray

17. Nothing ruins your beauty sleep. Not only can you tune out the snoring, vacuuming, talking, and barking, but even thunderstorms. Wait… There was a thunderstorm? What thunderstorm? Exactly. Unless you’re awake to witness it for yourself, odds are you probably didn’t hear the rumbles of thunder. Mother Nature never interrupts your zzz’s. AKA: SLEEPING IN FOREVER. I try to find humour in my hearing loss and this happens to be one of them, i love me some sleep.

18. Not to compare myself to others, hearing or not. Everyone goes their own pace. you need to have faith that you are capable of success. Belief in yourself and what you can achieve will inspire others to believe in you too. I am capable of achieving my goals and that's something I should believe in more. I am much more than I give myself credit for.

19. The best people in life won't care or think twice about it. It's not such a bad litmus test! - Meryl Williams

20. You can pull off selective hearing, and no one can prove it. No one can prove if you are choosing to selectively hear because there’s always that chances you actually didn’t hear something.

I’ve come to realise that no matter what we struggle with, whether it is hearing or mental illness or heartbreak or physical disability, we all struggle in some way or another. It is how we take those struggles and learn from them, push through them and make ourselves better from them. Never let your flaws weaken you. Instead, let them let you thrive. They are a part of you, let them be.

Are you deaf aware? If you have a hearing loss, what has it taught you?

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