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No, I am not deaf. Just hard of hearing. "Just". I'm 18 years old, and 10 years ago I told my parents something was wrong with my ears. Turns out I was born with about 40% of hearing loss in each ear. I said yes to wearing hearing aids because I wanted to hear the world and it made no sense to me at the time to refuse to hear properly. I'm not sure who and where I would be now had I made a different decision. So a few weeks later I got my hearing aids and never left them since.

For about a year, every sound was deafening. I hated doors being slammed, motorcycles on the streets and dogs barking. I kept the volume of the tv too low (which annoyed my family) and started noticing how much noise I was making when walking or setting the table. Everything was too loud and painful. But I was thankful for the clear sound of my parents' voice and the relief it brought me to hear what people we're telling me.

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At the same time, I was discovering new noises. For the first time, I caught the sound of a cat purring and the twittering of the birds passing by above my house in the spring. I wasn't born again, but I was definitely starting a new part of my life, the part that I would be able to hear.

Being different from people hearing normally is one thing, but people like me don't belong to the deaf community either. We exist, but we don't belong to a particular world or community, even if meeting someone who has the same problem as you always creates a bond. Sometimes people make us feel like we're an unfinished version of a human being, and sometimes we believe it.

That's what I realized 6 years after finding out I was hard of hearing. I would find myself thinking hard about my situation. I used to consider it a part of me, something I couldn't change, and I was okay with it. But as I grew up I understood how hard it had been on me to have a different childhood. I started realizing my life had changed for ever, that I would never be "normal".

My situation forced me to see the world in a different light. I was perceiving the world better after 8 years in a relatively silent environment, and I thought a lot more about sounds and voices than other people. I enjoy hearing the rain on the roof and the pop-corn pop, but I also notice annoying or painful noises more than normal people. Hearing can become painful in a world that is too loud and oblivious to this problem. Cars and building sites are everywhere and make us forget the sound of nature, the sound of the voices of the people we love, and particularly the sound of silence.

I've never been ashamed of being hard of hearing, but a few times I've wondered if I would say yes to hearing normally, to being "normal". Of course my situation isn't ideal, but going through all this made me stronger and smarter. I like being different, it made me ponder on normality. What is normal? Normal is people struggling with their own burden and dealing with day-to-day problems and still fighting to be happy. But I'm not alone, and nobody is. Being hard of hearing doesn't mean I don't get to be happy, it just means I have an excuse to not listen in class

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Posted in Dentistry Post Date 01/15/2018


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