Wednesday, August 16, 2017

INTROVERSION + DEAFNESS = SECLUSION



I lost the remaining of my hearing at the age of 27, and, boy, was it an eye opener! Having already grown up partially deaf, you would think this new condition wouldn’t have hit me so hard. You would be wrong.

In addition to learning how to be aware of my environment and stay hyper vigilante, I also needed to learn how to communicate, both with fellow deafies and hearing people.

I already knew much sign language, but ASL to a hearing/hard of hearing person and ASL to a Deaf person is quite different. But, boy, did I buckle down and study! ASL became my highest priority and it still is, in a way. Now, almost 18 years later, I am able to teach and share my knowledge—and that’s a true blessing. There’s only one problem: I’m a die-hard introvert. Scared to death of people in general. It’s not that I don’t want to socialize and have friends. I DO! But I’m terrified at the idea of interacting with others—especially those I don’t already know.

Oh, you won’t be able to tell from my first impression. I’m a great faker. Other than the fact that I have a hard core, evil, Resting Bitch Face (the face I make when I’m just sitting somewhere, resting), I’m quite personable. It’s the people closest to me who can appreciate my timidity.

So, becoming deaf was hard, yes, but the hardest part wasn’t/isn’t not hearing or even communication (I’m now fluent in sign language). No, the hardest part is lack of friends. The hearing friends I had before deafness all left when I lost my hearing. And trying to make new friends with the discrimination, the fear people feel toward the Deaf in general, on top of being scared of meeting new people—hearing or Deaf—That’s the hardest part. It can get quite lonely. Introversion + Deafness = Not such good results.


For now, I’ll rely on Facebook and the few friends I do have. If you have any other ideas, please comment, I’d love to hear your advice. Just be aware that if you ever see someone and realize they are deaf, they might be struggling with the same things I do. Go up to them. Befriend them. Get to know them. I promise you it will be well worth your time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

OFFEND THAT DEAFIE? IMPOSSIBLE!



As a youngster, most of us are taught what is considered rude and what is considered, shall we say, “politically correct.” But one question might be, do those rules apply for everyone in every situation? I high doubt that every single situation calls for the same response or behavior.

I was teaching a sign language course a week ago and the subject of “Deaf people being blunt” came up. One student spoke out, “So it’s impossible to offend a Deaf person?” Ha! I sincerely doubt there is anyone with normal emotions (Hearing, Deaf, Black, White, Female, Male, etc.),of whom it is impossible to offend. Tell a Deaf person they can’t do something because they’re deaf. I think that might rattle a few cages. In general Deaf people and Hearing people feel things the same way. We’ve just experienced life differently and respond in different ways. It doesn’t make us easy targets for rudeness or bullies.

At a Deaf gathering a while ago, I had a friend ask me how I felt about being so fat. I knew he wasn’t trying to be rude. So I told him, It sucks being fat. I’m working on it.” And let it go. What I wanted to say was,”How’s does it feel to be ugly?” But THAT would have definitely been rude…and politically incorrect (Whatever the heck that means).


Although Deaf and hard of hearing people may have a slight reputation for being blunt, that doesn’t make us a group of people who have no feelings. So, yes, you can offend a Deaf person. And yes, a Deaf person can offend a hearing person. That’s just how life goes. So the next time you feel like testing this theory out, take a moment and think, How would I feel if something asked or said the same thing to me? You might decide to push your OFF button and rethink what you have to say.