The travel bug was instilled in me at a young age. Thanks, Mom and Dad! I think because I couldn’t always hear everything, I was immediately attracted to the visual component that comes with traveling. Just by observing my surroundings, I learned so much about different cultures. As there’s usually a language barrier, it never mattered if I could hear or understand someone.
Foreign places have always felt more comfortable. I don’t feel like I’m in a losing battle by myself. When in another country, the locals and I both struggle to communicate, but dang it, we make it work!
My hearing loss has taught me patience. It’s pushed me to work harder and be aware of my surroundings. It’s given me the gifts of wonder and curiosity. I now recognize that I can learn so much more about myself if I just allow myself to be completely open with who I am. Similarly, it’s taught me that nothing should hold me back.
“My hearing loss has taught me patience. It’s pushed me to work harder and be aware of my surroundings. It’s given me the gifts of wonder and curiosity.”
These last few statements really inspired me to travel. I used to worry that my lack of hearing put me at a higher risk than others to travel safely or alone. I’ve found, however, that my attentiveness actually gives me more of an advantage.
Additionally, I’ve always known that I still had a lot of self-love to work on. I needed to learn more about myself and my hearing loss. Travel is a happy place for me. I feel out of my comfort zone but safe enough that I can be completely myself. I decided to combine these. The result was a personal mission to learn about deaf and hard of hearing communities around the world.
If I was going to truly be open about my hearing loss and the struggles I’ve dealt with as a result, I needed a clean slate. I had to be removed from anyone who already knew me, regardless of how much they know about my hearing loss. A new canvas was necessary to paint the version of me I wanted people to really see – the one who embraces her hearing loss. I needed to do this despite not knowing many who could directly empathize with me outside of my deaf soccer teammates.
If I shared my story, maybe I would find people who could empathize with their own comparable experiences. Or maybe, just maybe, I would meet someone who was just like me but kept their secret hidden for reasons similar to mine. The only way I felt I could do this was to take a path less followed – global travel with a completely new group of people.
Even if my goals to share my story and learn about others didn’t yield positive results, I knew I’d still have affirmative experiences just by traveling. It was a 50/50 chance I was willing to take in hopes that I might actually be more accepting of myself.
The experience has been nothing but incredibly uplifting and enlightening. I’ve learned we’re all just humans who have stories to share with people who are willing to listen. It’s unfortunate how society has shaped the way we project or hide ourselves.
I do owe my newfound confidence and happiness to my hearing loss and traveling. I had to go through the dark to come out at the light at the end of the tunnel. If it wasn’t for my hearing loss inspiring me to travel, I wouldn’t know what it means to learn new perspectives, hear both sides of a story, or acceptance of myself and others.
“I do owe my newfound confidence and happiness to my hearing loss and traveling.”
Read more: 7 advantages of traveling with hearing loss
My only hope is that my extended travel efforts will continue to teach me about my hearing loss, along with the similarities and differences of deaf and hard of hearing communities around the world.
Hearing Loss + Travel = Happy Me!
Does your hearing loss inspire you to travel? Let us know in the comments.