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Breaking Barriers: My Life & Success Despite Hearing Loss

“I’m literally so deaf, I can never hear anyone!” “My deaf a** can’t hear a thing!” … Same. Except, these dramatic statements that can usually be heard from friends who have perfect hearing or seen in light-hearted memes are a reality for me. 

Hearing is one of the most crucial ways we connect with the world around us. Music, secrets and a lover’s voice are just a few of the many things we hear, cherish and connect with on a day-to-day basis. When you lose an aspect of that connection through deafness, it can sometimes make you feel like you’re missing out on an important feature of life. Losing a sense faculty can definitely make you feel like you aren’t “whole” or that a critical piece of you is gone forever. 

I lost my hearing in one ear at the age of nine, which brought with it a plethora of emotions into my life. I’ve felt angry, depressed, punished and lost. But I’ve also felt hopeful, confident, grateful and strong. As time has gone on, I’ve learned that deafness doesn’t define me or my worth, and I think it’s important to share my journey to teach others that adversity isn’t the end of your world, or at least it doesn’t have to be.  

Courtesy: My Awesome Quotes

My story

The story of how I became deaf in one ear is confusing because I’m still not really sure why it happened. One day I just woke up and felt super dizzy and had muffled hearing in my left ear. I attributed the dizziness to the fair rides I had gone on the day before. That dizzy feeling would eventually become debilitating and would begin to include horrific episodes of vertigo and nausea. I had to walk with my head tilted to one side for weeks to keep the room from spinning. I was eventually diagnosed as having sudden sensorineural (SSN) hearing loss, with a mostly unknown cause. Hearing losses like these are clinically rare, but when they do occur, the origin of them is typically unknown. My doctor guessed that the hearing loss may have stemmed from a virus which destroyed fragile nerve cells in my ear. Regardless of the cause of my deafness, I was now a nine-year-old girl who had to take on the world, with half of the hearing she had before. Truthfully, I don’t remember the deafness impacting me much throughout the rest of elementary school, or even in middle school. I was able to cope mostly well with my hearing loss in these years and felt hopeful about the future and what I could accomplish. I had a really naïve and immature outlook regarding the future of being deaf in one ear.

Courtesy: Hearing Like Me

High school was a totally different story. This is the time when social interaction became much more important to me. This is the time when I began making really meaningful friendships and when my classes started to become more intense and difficult. I began to resent my hearing loss and even myself. I was furious at the fact that I would always accidentally ignore people who tried to talk to me on the side that I have a hearing impairment on. It was embarrassing when I had to sit a completely different way from the rest of the class to hear Spanish listening exams. I felt awkward wearing a giant hearing aid behind one ear, especially as a teenager. I felt like an outsider. I felt like my deafness was a punishment and was the cause of so much awkwardness and strife in my social and academic life. To be honest, there were times when I would just break down and cry over my hearing loss. The degree of my hearing loss began to worsen gradually during these years, and I was terrified of losing hearing in my other ear. 

Learning to accept

The prospect of having to live the rest of my life as “half-deaf” was honestly petrifying to me. In elementary and middle school, I guess I was somewhat oblivious to the fact that my hearing loss would ultimately be irreversible. As I grew older, I began to realize the severe implications that hearing loss could have on me. However, I also realized that I could spend the rest of my life sulking about my hearing impairment or I could choose to live with it the best I could. Spending essentially all four years of high school loathing myself and my hearing loss ultimately helped me realize the trajectory I wanted to take in life. I took small steps toward acceptance of my hearing loss and learned how to be grateful for the hearing I have left. I stopped apologizing and explaining myself to people when they got upset with me for not hearing them. Slowly, but surely, I began to realize that my hearing loss is simply a part of me. It shapes me into who I am, it shapes how I view myself and in some ways, my personality. I learned that my hearing loss doesn’t and will never make me “less” or “faulty” in any way.

Moving forward with acceptance

My journey with hearing loss has taught me to accept the cards that are dealt to me, regardless of how crappy they seem. Being hopeful towards and accepting of the future is so much more productive than spending time wishing life would go another way. Adopting this mindsight regarding adversity and my hearing loss honestly changed my personality and daily attitude. I stopped pitying myself and started pushing myself to do more, which has allowed me to have great success both academically and socially. 

I’m planning on attending law school in a few years, a feat I would’ve seen as impossible only a few years ago. Adopting a new mindset for my hearing loss has built my self-confidence and self-worth, which has had positive impacts in ALL areas of my life, especially in relationships with friends, family and even romantic interests. 

Courtesy: Gina Rodriguez

Hopefulness for the future

After living with hearing loss for approximately ten & a half years, I’ve learned that there is a possibility that I can gain back some of the hearing I’ve lost in my left ear. Scientific and medical research regarding deafness has advanced greatly and I’m hopeful towards whatever the outcome of those advances may be! 

I hope my story can inspire you to not only be more accepting and hopeful towards the future but to be more kind to yourself because, for me, it’s made a world of difference. Whatever problems you’re dealing with in your life, remember that it’s okay to have feelings about them. It’s normal and healthy to feel upset, angry, frightened or to feel however YOU feel. It’s just important to not let these feelings overwhelm you and take reign over your life. Try to accept and cope with the adversities in your life at your own pace and try not to feel ashamed if you feel like you’re not accepting the adversities in your life in a perfect time frame. We all move at our own individual pace and it’s important for you to deal with the obstacles in life in your own unique stride. 

Courtesy: Monica Karam

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Philosophy & Economics major. Lover of animals, chocolate, writing & New Orleans. Plant mom. Big time dog mom. Aspiring lawyer or professor. Keep up with me on Instagram @soofeeuhhh!
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