As a child, I always felt curious. However, I was afraid to ask questions because I worried about how dumb it might make me sound. Why was I this way? Throughout my entire life, as far back as I can remember I have lived in a quiet world.
At birth, I failed my infant hearing test at Women & Infants Hospital. I returned 2 weeks later and was given the “pass” for the test. Fast forward 5 years later, I failed my routine hearing screening in kindergarten.
As I got older, my hearing in my right ear became worse at each audiological checkup. All through school I worked overwhelmingly just to fit in and feel normal. I refused any assistance with hearing devices. I pretended to laugh at classroom banter when I didn’t hear the original conversations. I totally refused to disclose to anyone about my hearing loss, not even my close friends or teachers.
As my hearing loss declined, it began to affect my relationships.
It was sometimes difficult to hear words. The beginning and ending sounds meshed together and all I heard in my mind was the Charlie Brown teacher mumbling “wah, wah”. It was frustrating to me as I continued on.
Then, this summer at my routine audiological test, I had a meltdown. During the testing, I was asked to measure my ability to hear words and sentences with background noise. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep the night before and became extremely agitated and emotionally upset with my inability to correctly hear those words.
I totally lost it and just sat there crying.
From that point on, I challenged myself to make a change. It came to me that my hearing loss should not be a hinderance or an excuse to not speak up and ask those questions. I recently requested another audiological appointment to choose from a large range of hearing aid options. At the visit, I was able to select a hearing device that was blue-tooth enabled, and came in a discreet, but pretty rose-gold color. I am now anxiously awaiting its arrival.
I believe my hearing loss will not interfere with me being able to reach any goal I set for myself. I know this experience has made a lasting impact on me. I began to advocate for myself. I’m not afraid to ask someone please repeat what was just said to me. Nor am I afraid to ask questions in and out of the classroom. I recently began playing the violin again with orchestra class after years of having given it up. I now have a part-time job as a hostess at a nearby restaurant. I am confident and friendly in greeting each customer and do not shy away from pleasant interactions and conversation with the peopleI meet daily. I also have an internship at a local nursing home in training for my CNA licence. The people I connect with there make my heart melt. They truly show me to look inward at myself to be the best I can be no matter what disabilities or impairments I may perceive I possess. I truly have become more of a social person because I can empathize with others’ situations.
Several years ago, I would never have thought to imagine I would be where I am today. It is a relief like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Working hard to conquer my hearing loss challenges, I now have the ability in me to take a leap forward to speak up and share my thoughts, fears, emotions and ideas. Having a voice and maintaining a positive outlook has given my life new meaning. With confidence and determination, I have transformed myself from living in a quiet world to a not so quiet world I love.
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