Welcome to My World
I walk and sit down at my desk. I look up, thinking the same thoughts I always have on the first day of school, and see my interpreter. Comfort surrounds me knowing that one person in the room knows how I feel. I scan the room. There's that boy who is the funny one, the class clown. There's the pretty girl all the guys love. I continue to scan to hope to find another comfort. I continue hoping to find a friend in that class. My eyes land on the last person. No luck. I have no friends in that class. An overwhelming fear comes in my mind. I think, I hate this class, and I hate having to declare to everyone that I'm hard of hearing. Once again, I have to go through the experience of seeing the wandering eyes of people trying to find out who the girl is that needs an interpreter. Throughout class everyone is looking for that one girl. The whole class time I'm thinking to myself: Ugh why me? What did I do to deserve this? I would go through the same thing for seven periods. Over and over again I would freak out. By the end of the day I just wanted to go home. I didn't want to have anything to do with my first day of high school. I hated high school.
It's been seven months now since that first day of school. I'm a freshman at Fairview high school in Boulder CO, a mainstream public school. There are only two hard of hearing kids in my school, me and another boy I rarely see. It's hard to walk into a school when you're all alone and your mindset is that no one will understand what you're going through, but I must say that being in high school has made me more confident in who I am. I'm just learning to accept my hearing loss.
I've grown up in a hearing world. Every once in awhile I go to deaf events. I'm not afraid to be my silly self when I'm with deaf or hard of hearing people, and that to me is everything I need. For the past eight years I have gone to the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf. I loved every moment of it because there was always a group of kids who knew how I felt without even talking about it. I had the comfort of knowing that they understood me. Then I always had to come back to the hearing world.
I wouldn't say it's been easy. I think that some hearing people take things for granted, but same goes for deaf people. I've met many people who have so much confidence in being deaf, and they have shown me that it's ok to be hard of hearing, and I need to embrace it. In my mind, hearing people have normal, easy lives. (Feel free to prove me wrong.) Hearing people don't need to go to IEP meetings or audiologist appointments. One of my pet peeves is when I'm talking to some of my hearing friends and open up to them, tell them how hard it is to be a hard of hearing person in a hearing world, and the reply is, "I know how you feel." I think, sure, you might know how I feel, but in reality we're two completely different people with two different lives. You're going through a tough time, but it's not the same as mine. When I'm with my deaf friends they understand completely and I can have the comfort of knowing that they do.
It's so important if you're hard of hearing to be able to talk to other hard of hearing or deaf people to get their perspective on things. The past seven months of being a freshman have shown me that I don't need to worry about my hearing loss and what people think. You only get to live life once. So why waste your day pitying yourself and wishing when the door to the world is right there. Someone once told me that there was a girl who refused to wear her hair up and expose her hearing aid. She was deathly afraid to go in public because she worried too much about what people thought. Her friends started to drift away because she never wanted to hang out in public. When I first heard that it broke my heart. I promised myself that I would never stoop that low in my self-confidence. Insecurity can eat you up inside. Not knowing who you are and what you live for can leave you lost in this world.
This song, "The Way I Was Made," by Chris Tomlin describes how I wish everyone would live and accept themselves and the way I want to live. The chorus goes like this: