In December, I circulated a survey titled How Our Hearing Loss Affects Our Personality. Thank you to those that took the survey. The last question on the survey was “Not that I like my hearing loss, but because of it I have …….”
The answers ranged from making wonderful new friends, having greater empathy for others with disabilities, loud sounds and snoring don’t disturb me, and developing good listening and self-advocacy skills. The one answer I didn’t expected was “to gain self-confidence”. Gain self-confidence, I thought. That was the last answer I expected to see. When I thought about it, I realized that the respondent was on to something.
As many of you know for the majority of my life I was in denial about my hearing loss and pretended to hear when I didn’t. Thankfully, I came to terms with it. At first in a small way but today, it’s more the exception than the rule not to let people know I have a hearing loss and how to speak to me so I can understand them.
Asking people to talk to me so I understand them requires me to believe I am worthy of making this request. After all, I’m asking people to shift their normal way of speaking and instead talk louder, slower and face me. This requires effort on their part. If I don’t have the self-confidence to make this request, I can’t do it. Or just as bad, I’ll do it as a plea, self-deprecating myself.
I hope people will notice my hearing loss; it’s the perfect excuse to educate. Education is important because hearing loss is an invisible disability and people don’t understand it. When I mention it, people often tell me they too think they may have a hearing loss or know someone with hearing loss that they wish would get help.
Yes - Coming to terms with my hearing loss and learning to advocate for myself and others wasn’t easy. I had to realize that being human means to converse with others. Otherwise I am living in a vacuum. What would be the use of that? As a human being, it’s my right to advocate for myself. It’s just up to me to realize this. Realizing this has boosted my self-confidence more than any other event in my life.
Am I grateful for my hearing loss? Well, no, I’m not grateful for it but because of it, I feel I’ve become a better person.
What about you? Do you feel that living with your hearing loss and having to deal with it in many difficult situations has given you more self-confidence? I bet if you think about it, it has - one step at a time as you navigate through life's daily challenges.
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