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Learning to Listen as a Young Adult With Hearing Loss

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It’s typically thought of as an ice breaker game, however “two truths and a lie” can be an activity that reveals things about an individual that otherwise would not be known. When playing the game, I state the “fact” I have hearing loss. People would automatically assume it’s the lie statement, but it’s not. I have dealt with hearing issues my whole life.

At the moment of writing this I’m preparing to get hearing aids for the second time in my life. Yes, I am just going to be forthright and come out to say over the past few months I have started to lose my hearing. It has declined significantly enough to the point of requiring hearing aids now. This comes as a shock not just to the people around me, but myself as well. After having a life-changing (and as I view it personally, life-saving) surgery quite a few years ago, it essentially fixed my hearing. I was made aware I would need hearing aids again in my life at some point, but not anytime soon. So I figured it would probably be when I’m retired and in my 70s or 80s, but instead it’s when I’m preparing to finish high school and to head off to college.

Young adulthood or “adulting” as we millennials like to call it is a challenging yet exciting time in our lives. The circumstances I am going through have changed what “adulting” looks like for me in this season of life. However, something I never expected to come out of this journey is the stories I have been able to hear while meeting people who cross my path. These stories range from personal ones such as how someone overcame great obstacles to get where they are today, to how someone else took a leap of faith and landed their dream job.

There are moments where lip reading and using my one “good” ear comes in handy. Those times are when I’m beyond thankful for the little hearing I do have. But there are also moments when I wish by the snap of my fingers things could be fixed. For instance, when sitting out by the campfire I can hear the loud roar of the fire that is right next to me, but I can’t hear the bellow of the frogs and crickets in the woods. Or being outside with my little sister and she asks “do you hear that?” and it’s the ice cream truck a couple blocks away, yet to me it’s nonexistent.

I feel like many people take hearing for granted because it’s a function our bodies automatically do, just like breathing. But when something goes wrong and the mechanisms inside the ear don’t function correctly, the need for listening becomes apparent. Listening to make sure no information is missed in a leisure conversation with a friend. Listening to take in all the sounds of life. Listening to understanding each and every individual’s story.

My story doesn’t look like anyone else’s I have ever met. My story has many pieces to the puzzle that I am still working to complete. It’s a tale filled with happiness, sadness, laughter, grief, and most of all hope. Hope that others will take a moment to slow down and hear my story and not judge me by what they see from afar. Hope that things, no matter how hard or twisted, will get better. Hope that by sharing a piece of my story, I can help others find their voice and share their stories too. Yes, even if it starts off just by playing an ice breaker game.

Originally published: September 20, 2018
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