The Mighty Logo

5 Things I Never Told My Friends About My Hearing Loss

I was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss when I was in my third year of college. It felt like just another thing on top of a bad health sundae. I was not a stranger to hearing loss, as I was studying American Sign Language and had been for over a year. However, that didn’t change the stress that ensued from my sudden realization that I was officially hard-of-hearing. Here’s what I often don’t tell people.

1. I’m still scared sometimes.

Yeah, I know I should be comfortable with being hard-of-hearing.  I study American Sign Language and now even tutor high school students in American Sign Language. I truly enjoy being part of the Deaf community and hope that I will continue to be able to be part of it for the rest of my life. However, I cannot explain how scary it is to stand in a room with your family and know they are talking but not be able to fully understand them.  It’s scary to think I’m one step closer to losing my hearing completely. I don’t dwell on it, but the thought pops into my head from time to time.

2. Sometimes I feel like I’m between worlds.

I’m not hearing and I’m not Deaf.  Most people assume that I hear just like everybody else when they see me out at the store or at work. I still talk quite well, and when I’m with my family or at work I communicate in spoken English. However, I’m often missing several words in conversations, and it is difficult some days to talk as clearly because I don’t hear my own voice as well as I used to. When I’m in the Deaf community, things are flipped. People assume I sign fluently, but even on a good day I cannot express everything I want to in American Sign Language, and I cannot understand everything someone signs to me.  I’m in between and I can’t understand anyone fully.

3. It hurts sometimes that my family doesn’t sign.

I will always love my family, but sometimes I wish I could communicate with them all the time. Sometimes I feel isolated from them when we’re in large groups. I have amazing friends who sign, but knowing that I don’t have that relationship with my family makes me sad sometimes.

4. People staring at me makes me uncomfortable.

When we are out in public and I have to ask someone to repeat something when I’m ordering food or look at me when they talk or if I sign something to you, people stare at me like I grew a second head.  I will usually point it out to you with a sign that indicates someone is looking at me and a funny face.  I try to make a joke of it, but it really sucks.  I know that usually people are just curious but it can be so uncomfortable to be an attraction for people to watch.

5. I wouldn’t change my hearing loss.

Yes, I have bad days when I’m angry that I can’t communicate or understand people all the time. Yes, there are times when I’m upset that my family doesn’t know sign. Yes, sometimes I’m scared of what is to come. However, I wouldn’t change my hearing loss.  It makes me who I am. It gave me a tie to a community I love and a language that is beautiful. It gave me the strength to advocate for myself and work towards the things I want. It forced me to push past barriers I didn’t even know existed in my life. Overall it makes me a better more tolerant person and I love that.

There are a lot of things I want people to know about me and my hearing loss, but most people already know most of them. I’m an open book — and that is just another one of the many things my hearing loss has taught me.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home