I wonder sometimes how people see me, do they see me as a deaf person or do they see me as a PERSON? What do they think when they first see me, hear me speak, see my hearing aids? What will change when the cochlear implant makes it more obvious that I have something wrong with me? Over the years I have heard compliments about my speech, praise over my achievements, but I have also heard names like “Helen Keller”, or that others thought I was dumb, snotty,etc.
In high school I was asked to try out for cheerleading. I had only been at the school a few weeks, so this girl barely knew me and yet for some reason felt I would be an asset to the squad. I wish I had asked her why she did, and what she saw in me. I made the squad, and as we prepared for our cheerleading competition, the other girls worked with me on learning the cheers and the moves. Did the other students see me differently once i became a cheerleader? Or did it simply highlight further that I was different?
University was different, I didn’t seem to make friends as easily.. but I supposed I held myself aloof, as I found it stressful.
Work, I seemed to fit in ok. Teaching was different since it was the students that matter. Camps and daycares, well I learned to work out a system of communicating that aided me in working well with my co-workers. My current job, I know I am missed right now, as I am on maternity leave. Missed for my ability to make things as cohesive as possible, my organization skills, and my ability to step in and help where needed easily.I am not the only deaf person at work, I have a co-worker who has a more moderate hearing loss, although she has similar difficulties as I do with the phone and with communicating with others.
My online friends, through my mommy groups as I had my children, those I met online on Facebook, I wonder sometimes what they think.. do I portray myself accurately? Writing is such a different medium than actual face to face conversation. I am constantly rechecking what I write to make sure that I am not inadvertently stepping on anyone’s toes. I check for spelling and grammar errors, although I admit I am sometimes prone to shortcuts as well as speedy fingers (typing errors). I wonder if my deafness comes through sometimes in the writing. I know my vocabulary and writing skills are better than most my age with my level of hearing loss. Not everyone knows, as it is not visible. The only way a person knows online that I am deaf, is if I say so. Here, in the social networking medium, I can pretend to be just like anyone else, a normal human being that deals with the same day to day things that anyone else does. I can hide my deafness if I choose to. For whatever reason, I do not. I don’t talk about it all the time, but when it is relevant, I bring it up, and share my experiences. What do people think when I do this?
I am curious right now what people are thinking as they read my blog. What they will think over the next year as I adapt and work towards using my processor and implant successfully.