This following post is kinda personal, I hope you don't mind. I have thought to write this post through this past year, but only now I find the courage to do it.
For a long long time (specifically 12 years), I've been holding back to tell people that I am suffering from hearing loss. I feel that I owe it to myself to be able to confidently say that: yes, I have hearing problem and I am okay with it. The reason why I have kept quiet for so long is because I'm afraid that once I exposed myself, I will be even more vulnerable to rejections, or heartbreaks. However, I've come to learn that the worst rejection can only come from myself. It is part of my selfishness that I want to feel free and open about this hearing loss, instead of frequently dealing with my insecurities. Before I can talk about this openly, I feel that I am tied to an imaginary ropes, holding back myself from things that I want to achieve.
Just so you know, I am not born with it. It started when I was 9 y.o. and has gradually worsen ever since. I've tried all kinds of methods of survival so I can still study in normal school, even go to university. I wear hearing aids, although they don't completely solve my problems. I learn to lip read. I asked for a note taker at lectures so I don't miss out the information.
It has created impacts my social life in some ways. I consider myself quite easy going and I am lucky enough to have a bunch of great friends who likes me no matter how weird I can get. But people are not always nice about it, especially when I was in high school, and they just don't understand why sometimes I can't hear what they say or respond when I'm called (Some guy even thought that I have a focus problem. Guaranteed you, it's not the case. Lol). Some people talked about me behind my back. I don't blame them, I think it's normal. Probably I'd do the same thing if I am not the one who experienced it.
Processing to uni, it can be more lonely sometimes, because I study abroad, and lip reading a non-native language is INCREDIBLY hard. I increasingly dislike going out in big groups because trying to lipread 10 people at once is not only impossible, but makes my neck hurts. I can't phone people, because my hearing don't allow me to. I'm afraid to go to high noise level places like bars and clubs, because I don't want to lose more. As a young girl who just wants to live my life fully, this is extremely tough.
I know that I am not alone in this, so I want to spread my perspective, as someone who has had hearing loss. I just hope you can understand better what people like me are dealing with everyday.
My hearing loss is profound, so I cannot even hear my alarm buzz. In not-so-important days I take off my hearing aids during sleep, but if I don't want to miss out work or class, I would wear them to sleep.
Buying food or coffee is a ridiculously easy task, but for me, it has made some unforgettable embarrassing moments because I misheard what the cashier/ waitress/ waiter said. For example, when I was ordering Boost, I once misheard that the guy is asking me for a fist bump (when he was actually asking for my name). You guess it, I give him my fist confusedly and he looks extremely horrified. This is real.
Lecture is a hell on earth for me. It is a 4 hours long talk in which every word coming from the lecturer is impossible to absorb. I tackled this by hiring a notetaker (free from RMIT. yay!) and doing some other things while she takes notes for me, like reading books or important stuffs such as checking Facebook.
Going out with friends
I prefer to go out with one to three people because I feel tired trying to adjusting myself in big groups. As a consequence of hearing loss (and architecture school), I have accustomed myself find joy in the solitude of eating alone too. I have good days, where I can hear better, perhaps influenced by the surrounding too. But in some other days I have no idea what are you laughing at or what gossips you all talked about. It's hard to not feel as a burden when you have to ask people to repeat what they say a lot lot lot of times, but what can I do?
What can I say. Thank God for live captioning. And thank God for Subtitles. My dream is all video in youtube and the movies in cinema have a freaking subtitles.
Not sure if you can call it "calling". Usually it includes me ranting about what I want to say, and then asking them to text back because sorry, I just can't hear you. Thank God for Skype tho. It's still possible for me to call when I can see the face of the person on the other end.
I think you got the idea. That's a short glimpse to how a day with hearing loss feels like. If you ever meet me and wonder why I answer your question with a whole different set of answer, now you know why. I hope that as you now know that solving hearing problem is not as easy as wearing glasses to minus eyes, you can grow an understanding and patience for all of your friends who are dealing with hearing loss.
To sum up, I want to quote Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress who has showed me how to be brave in embracing my obstacles. She said:
"Who said I have limitations? I can do ANYTHING except hear. Yes, I can't be singer, or a telephone operator, or piano tuner but there's a whole heck in life I can do. Why dwell on my perceived 'disability' or 'limitations' when I can show them that life is full of possibilities for everyone."
Thanks for reading! It means a lot for me.