Wow, it’s been a long time! I am so thankful for all of you who kept reading, kept sharing, and kept me busy with your emails and comments! Keep it coming!
Speaking of things I’m grateful for, I have been thinking a lot lately about the positive side of being deaf. Sure, things can be frustrating sometimes, but it’s not all bad. Here are 9 reasons I’m thankful I am Deaf:
1 – I have the choice of turning off my ears.
There are a lot of annoying sounds in the world. Sometimes it’s really nice to just… flip a switch and have them all disappear. I find this especially helpful in crowded restaurants, concerts, and near construction. It’s also great for when my kid is having a melt down in some inopportune place. *Flip.* Silence. Suddenly I can focus on dealing with what’s going on with my kid, without being as self-conscious about what other people think of his noise level. It’s much harder for a hearing person to achieve the same optional bliss.
2 – Noisy toys? Neighbor’s dog barking? Annoying person on the bus talking way too loudly on their cell? No problem for me!
There are very few children’s toys that actually make a sound that I can hear, even with my hearing aids on. I don’t hear dogs barking at all. There’s a whole world of annoying sounds that just don’t bother me. I sleep right through most noise disturbances, unless they involve a lot of thumping (that means you, upstairs neighbors). That’s not to say that some sounds with my hearing aids don’t grate on my nerves – but those are pretty few and easier to avoid. See item number 1.
3 – I am less easily distracted.
Hearing people have to filter a lot of sounds. I’m always surprised when I’m in the middle of a conversation and the hearing person I’m talking to starts looking around – some background noise has caught their attention. I know sometimes it’s hard in an office environment to focus on your work when there’s a lot of conversations and other noises going on around you. I don’t find that I have this problem.
4 – Avoiding awkward conversations.
This one doesn’t always apply, but I have found that if someone I don’t want to talk to comes up to me (say, someone near the bus stop, or in a grocery store), 90% of the time they’ll leave me alone if I respond in ASL. This is one of the things that can be really frustrating about having hearing loss (being told “oh nevermind” is VERY frustrating), but there are a few times when I’m relieved for the easy exit out of unwanted encounters with strangers.
5 – Change in perspective.
I see things very differently than I did before I became profoundly deaf. I interact differently in the world. I notice things I wouldn’t have before. I feel things more. I feel like I am much more connected to myself and the world around me. I pay attention to people’s body language, to the way they interact with one another.
6 – ASL
I am so glad I started learning ASL. It’s a very expressive language, fun, playful – it’s a very rich experience. I enjoy it very much, and I’m really thankful I have the ability to connect with others in a language that doesn’t rely on my ears.
7 – Deaf culture rocks.
Granted, I don’t get out to socialize nearly as much as I would like to, but I am really grateful that I have gotten the chance to reach out and connect with the Deaf community. I have met a lot of really awesome people that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
8 – It forces me to stand up for myself.
Being deaf means you have to stand up for yourself. Everything from needing an interpreter at the doctor’s office to dealing with people who are rude or hurtful – you have to be able to stand up for yourself, be assertive, and ask for what you need. A lot of times, people want to accommodate, but they are not sure how. It’s my job to know what my rights are, what services are available, and to let whoever it is I’m dealing with know what I need. This is not easy, and I’m still learning, but I’m really thankful for the chance to practice being assertive.
9 – Creative problem solving.
The default in this world is hearing. This means sometimes having to find different ways of doing something that might seem pretty basic to some people. I think this is a skill I’ve applied to other areas of my life – I’m not likely to give up if at first something doesn’t seem doable!
What are you thankful for?