Living with Hearing Loss: A letter to my teenage self
(…well, younger teenage self)
“I know you hate it. Feeling left out, feeling embarrassed when you ask someone for the fifth time just what did they say. And the stares. As if the molds in your ears and the piece behind your ear are flashing signals, saying “Hey, look at me!”
And who could forget the class dance? Where the music was so loud and the room so dark you couldn’t keep up with your “friends,” who deserted you after they thought you were just too high maintenance.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you it instantly gets better, that your hearing loss will go away, or that it will all miraculously work out.
Because the outside things? They didn’t matter. You have to start from within. You have to become comfortable with yourself, your hearing loss/deafness, your disability.
And you’ll stop being so negative. The stares you may get harmlessly bounce off your aura of confidence.
“Yeah, I wear hearing aids, so what?” becomes your mantra. You can face the stares with an unwavering gaze, because you have nothing to be ashamed about.
You’ll realize the “friends” who don’t have the patience to enunciate or repeat themselves aren’t worth knowing, and that they are not representative of the entire hearing population.
You’ll learn to make friends with those who don’t mind repeating what a teacher said, or will patiently wait for you to change your batteries.
Aren’t I forgetting something?
Yes, I know, I didn’t say how you will gain this elusive “confidence.” What do you do, turn your hearing aids on and off 10 times, then stand in front of a mirror and chant? Nah. You just stop caring about what people think.
It’s hard to do. Everyone cares about what others think about them to some degree, whether they admit it or not. But since your hearing loss will always be a part of who you are, it’s pretty pointless to stress over what someone thinks of you.
By no means is this a foolproof method. There may still be times where it gets to you, where you feel like a castaway, completely isolated.
But these days don’t mean you failed, that your confidence is broken forever. These times are normal, and you’ll get yourself out of them, promise.
So you better get up and put your hearing aids back on, because the world is out there, waiting for you, and there no reason to miss out.
And bring extra batteries.”