Personal Principles

Exercise all the time. Go to bed when you’re tired. Wake up in the morning while it’s still cool. Buy your best friend a drink. Drink coffee. Drink tea. Drink wine. Read everyday. Eat real food. Be sad when you feel sad and be happy when you feel happy. Don’t agree with someone on something you disagree on. Listen to music as much as you can. Listen to someone tell a story. Make your bed. Have a signature perfume. Have a signature style. Go shopping by yourself. Go on a date. Go on road trips. Take the train. 5 minutes of yoga before bed, 5 minutes of yoga after you wake up. Cuddle a sweet and furry animal. Plant some flowers. Appreciate a rainy and overcast day. Don’t do something you know you won’t enjoy, but also consider any missed opportunities. Know the difference between loving and being loved. Celebrate your accomplishments. Understand the necessities of failure. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.

What I’ve Learned So Far as a Hearing Impaired 24 Year Old

1. When I meet someone for the first time in a loud environment, the introduction process proves to be a bit tricky. Sometimes, people will think I have some kind of social ineptitude if I don’t respond quickly (presumably because it’s too loud for me to hear you the first time you spoke to me). Generally speaking, the people who initially assume this are thick headed and ignorant. In a way, my hearing loss inadvertently becomes a reliable tool in weeding out the idiots I wouldn’t want to speak to anyway.

2. People are fascinated by lip reading. Whenever someone asks me how I manage to understand what they are saying when I cannot hear them well, I always say that I read their lips. Lip reading is a mindless task for me, having started when I was about four. But to those who have never seen anyone lip read before, I become a superhero CIA agent. It’s amusing to see people marvel over the possibility of lip reading. However, irritation will rear its head if someone tests my skill by overtly mouthing their words.

3. Not being able to wear hearing aids while swimming is only a slight setback (the hearing device will suffer major water damage). Growing up in South Florida, pool parties and heading to the beach with friends is a regular activity. Playing Marco Polo is impossible, yet being underwater coupled with complete silence is an incredibly serene feeling. The visceral picture in front of me, heightened by the overcompensation of my other senses, sight making up for sound, creates a gorgeous sensory experience that only I am able to have. Sensory deprivation can open a lot of windows regarding the enhancement of experience.

4. A lot of people confused the terms deaf and hearing impaired. This is okay, in some respects. The hearing impaired and deaf culture currently has a very soft voice, so people don’t have much exposure to the terms and formalities. Whenever someone is confused, I take it upon myself to eradicate their confusion through simple explanation. This applies to any topic subject to ignorance. I always tell people that it is much like someone who can’t see well who needs to get glasses. Same idea applies to those who cannot hear well.

5. It is okay to be angry. Being a kid, especially with a hearing impairment (or any disability) comes with a lot of struggles. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve cursed my condition, wished I were someone else, cried because there was nothing I could do to change my circumstances. These adversaries are important to overcome. Sometimes, you don’t necessarily overcome them completely, because the cyclical pattern of life proves to close one struggle while other struggles slowly surface into adulthood. The important thing to understand is to never undervalue one’s worth and to never let go of your passions. The reliable thing about the capacity of your worthiness and your passions is that they will always be there despite your humanness getting the best of you. Sometimes, overcoming anger and sadness and confusion is necessary, perhaps even complementary to one’s overall development as a human being. Not matter what, keep going, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

6. I really, really appreciate the fact that I can sleep without any disturbances. Turn on the vacuum, bring on thunderstorms. I will sleep like a baby.

7. For those of you who are wondering but are hesitant to ask, on occasion, I will pretend to not hear someone if said person is bothering me. I rarely ever feel the need to do this, and I’ve probably only done it three times throughout my entire 24 years on this planet. However, sometimes people can be unbearably bothersome.

8. I still wonder what music and voices would sound like with average, normal hearing. Because I will never be able to hear like that of an average person, my reception of voices, sounds and music will always differ from others. I often wonder what music would sound be like if I could hear 100%, or what sounds and noises would bother me if I could hear them fully. But then again, is it just a matter of subjectivity? Who knows what I would respond to if my hearing magically came back? My responses and perception might change, or they might stay the same. Is is a notion that I’ve always wondered.

9. I am positive that my passion for writing and reading came from the fact that I could not hear well. Writing and reading require concentration, imagination, solitude, and a quiet environment. Or perhaps my introverted nature is responsible for the blossoming of those passions. Either way, they have definitely facilitated my ability to explore my interest in ways that others can’t. The moral of this idea is that sometimes our differences lead us to a certain path that could not be constructed on an ordinary platform. Explore all the weirdness and the ickyness and uncomfortable situations and the thoughts that arouse fear. Nothing worth receiving is received easily. Learn to appreciate your journey.

10. Being hearing impaired has taught me to be incredibly compassionate. I don’t undermine the struggles I’ve overcome, but I’ve become increasingly grateful when I encounter people who are experiencing harder struggles. It is like what Plato once said, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” Sometimes, I get upset when people are arrogant and selfish, yet at this point, I’ve learned to not waste my energy on such futile matters, because feeble-minded people are only able to see as far as their selfishness will let them. Feeble-minded people will not be the oil that makes the wheel of compassion go round. I’ve learned that through compassion, experience becomes richer, big ideas become more abundant, difference between two opposing parties gradually dissipates, and we develop an understanding of people as the human beings they truly are. Compassion teaches us that we are all different and yet the same. Always remember what you are capable of through the unveiling nature of compassion.