Here are seven of the most valuable tips I would give my teenager.
Boat, I know. Yet it is the basis for being able to be completely yourself, whether you have a hearing loss or not. Realize the unique chance you have been given to enjoy this wonderful experience that is life. Just because you have hearing loss doesn’t mean your life isn’t worth as much or more than everyone else’s. She’s just different and that’s what makes her beautiful. One of your senses might be diminished, but I’m willing to bet you have other superpowers to make up for it!
When I was a teenager I often felt offended, I felt impatience or aversion when someone had the bad taste to talk to me very loudly, over-articulate or talk to me like I’m particularly dumb and not like I’m just deaf. It was something that consumed me, I felt like I was tiny and insignificant. Sometimes I reacted with a little aggression or dreamed of being able to avenge myself by making them feel this in turn. As I get older, I find that these people just don’t know. Sometimes these are really great people who really think they are helping us by doing this. But if they have never met or spoken to a hard of hearing or deaf person, they just don’t know how to go about speaking to them the way they would like them to. Rather than letting my insecurity push me to put up walls and feel aggressiveness, impatience, sadness, anger or any other negative emotion, I will now give them the benefit of the doubt. I assume that they are unaware of what is best for us rather than thinking that they are ignorant and rude.
If this ever happens to you, try to gently convey to them what you would prefer. Let them know that the way they interact with you is not ideal or makes you uncomfortable. If they listen and change their way, that’s great! They have learned something from this experience and will probably feel more comfortable talking to you in the future. If they don’t change the way they interact, praise yourself for handling the situation as well as possible.
Read also: 10 misconceptions about hearing loss
In the world of “disability” and in the sound world we live in, not hearing can be perceived as a negative thing. We are not perfect. Our methods of communication are changing. We may be missing out on something by not taking advantage of this wide sound spectrum.. We wear hearing aids in our ears and we use closed captions to watch TV. All this may not fall within the framework of « normality » or of the majority. But that doesn’t mean that hearing loss should “handicap” us in any way. Hearing loss is what you choose to do with it. If you make it a state affair, it will become a state affair. If this is the worst thing that has ever happened to you, then it will be. And if you make it the BEST thing to ever happen to you, then this is what it will become. If you accept that it defines who you are, then that is what YOU will be. If you choose to let her stop you from living your dreams, that’s your choice. And if you use it to make your dreams come true,
You will project the reflection of what you have inside. If you feel a lot of animosity towards yourself because of your hearing loss, people will feel these vibrations emanating from you. If you are sure of yourself and love yourself, people will see it and perceive it as well. We only have one life to live and it is extremely short. It’s too short for you to waste your time brooding over your hearing loss or hoping things will be different. At the end of the day, there is nothing you can do but accept it and come to terms with it. Make the most of all that is available to you as a teenager and your life is sure to be rich and fulfilling.
If I had been given a dollar for every uncomfortable situation I went through because of my hearing loss, I would probably have enough to afford a trip to Hawaii today. But you want me to tell you? I wouldn’t change a thing, because every situation allowed me to learn something. I have learned to deal with these situations through trial and error. I learned more about myself through these experiences. I discovered the limits and the field of possibilities. I learned to know my reactions, to distinguish between those that worked and those that did not. Above all, these experiences have made me stronger by allowing me to expand my knowledge, develop it and make it mature.
Certain situations can be painful, difficult, even uncomfortable at times. Especially when you’re a teenager. But remember, this is what enables you to learn and grow. Also remember that you are not alone. Everyone goes through these kinds of uncomfortable times, but how you choose to deal with them is up to you.
These uncomfortable situations can be caused by a particular person or event. Maybe someone laughed at your hearing loss or it is an internet meme that is making fun of hard of hearing / deaf people. The world around us is full of really, really nasty people. With a little luck, you will never have to see them, but sometimes the luck is unfortunately not the rendezvous. The most important thing to remember is that the main reason these people make you feel bad is that they don’t feel good about themselves. Boat once again, but so true. These people have their own problems that they bring to you, who knows why?
If this happens to you, try to remember that you are wonderful just the way you are. Try not to waste your time or energy rehashing what this person has said or done to you. It’s okay to be touched by hurtful words or actions, but don’t ruminate on this for too long. Remember that people who hurt you have their own insecurities, imperfections, or issues to deal with. They don’t deserve you to devote all your tremendous energy to them. Get away from those kinds of people and go your way. Do not take offensive content found on the Internet literally (a totally futile reaction unless you can really move the situation forward with action) and move on.
Knowing when to ask for help and when it is possible to fend for yourself is important. Whether you are fiercely independent or, conversely, quite dependent, finding that right balance can solve many situations. For my part, I would lean more towards a great independence. I don’t particularly like asking for help. Sometimes I choose my pride over having someone help me or participate. I also sometimes hide some of my needs rather than express them. In these cases, therefore, I miss important information and do not make the most of certain experiences. I gradually learned that expressing myself and sharing my needs with others enabled me to fight against exclusion.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you really need it: to make a phone call, understand an important speech made by an unintelligible person, ask someone to repeat themselves, take extra precautionary measures when the situation requires it. On the other hand, being too dependent can hamper your ability to be self-sufficient. If you ask for help before you have tried it for yourself or explored other options, you may not be using your full potential!
Since we are categorized as « disabled » in many situations, I try to make it an advantage. For example, I have the right to fly with my dog because she is my service animal. I can pretend I haven’t heard from someone if for some reason I prefer to avoid communication. We bet that people will remember you because you are unique. Sometimes the prices of trains, ferries, entrances are offered with discounts for people with disabilities.
I can avoid the obligation to participate in a jury. Indeed, it is very likely that I will not be able to understand / hear the entire trial. I can sleep without being embarrassed by the small parties organized by my roommates. I can see the world in a way that not many people can. At university, it happened to me that students come to me for an interview for a course or a newspaper article on my hearing loss, it is rather flattering! Take advantage of these benefits whenever you can!
Find out more about Jaime by following her on Instagram !