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.