In one of his recent articles here, Stu mentions bluffing. If you are, like us, of the “hearing lost” (Stu again, I love this expression), then this probably strikes a chord. How much do you fake it? How much do you pretend you’ve understood when you haven’t? For me: a lot. Much less now that I have hearing aids. But before… I understand now.
I was making colossal efforts to compensate for my hearing loss. And at some point, the effort is not just worth it anymore, and it’s easier to pretend. Like Christina pretended to hear Santa Claus because it was less painful to bluff than to stick out, once again, as different. In a way, I tell myself that my years of faking it have made me super sensitive to context, and pretty good at filling in the gaps. My brain is always running around to find missing pieces, definitely a useful skill when problem-solving. But let’s not kid ourselves, I missed out on a lot, and also did myself a disservice socially at times, by “not getting it”. With hindsight, it was the fire and the frying pan: is it worse, socially, for a nerdy teenager to be asking friends and classmates to repeat everything, again and again, or is it worse to miss out on stuff and misunderstand? Even today, and even with hearing aids, I sometimes still fake it. I’m much bolder about speaking up and asking people to repeat themselves or talk to me in a way that I can understand them. But when you’ve asked somebody to repeat something twice, or even three times, and you still can’t understand them, what do you do? At some point, I just smile, nod, and laugh, and move on beyond this moment of failed communication.