|My Journey Of Discovering My Deaf Identity|
Since birth, I have not heard a single sound. As a Deaf person, I had varying responses from people both Deaf and Hearing. Deaf people felt I was not Deaf enough while hearing people viewed me with sympathy or pity that I was unable to hear. Tears have been shed so many times. My anger reared its ugly head every time when I faced ignorance from both sides. I did what I knew the best; I held up my head and confront the faces of misunderstanding, oppression, overwhelming pity, and fear.
I never formally attended a school for the Deaf. I rarely attended any Deaf social functions while I was growing up. I had several bad experiences with Deaf culture among my peer while I was growing up.
I was often told by Deaf people that I looked, and behaved like hearing people. They asked me why I had so many hearing friends and so few Deaf friends. Why did I not attend Deaf school? Why did I just date hearing boys? Why did I move my lips while I signed? Why didn't I act Deaf while signing? Why did my signs appeared to be mixed of ASL (American Sign Language) and ESL (English Sign Language) instead of being fully ASL? Was I too good for them?
Some Deaf militants said I was not Deaf enough to be a part of the Deaf world.
I allowed those bad experiences to turn me away from wanting to learn more my culture.
I attributed some of my dislike of Deaf culture to the fact that I grew up in a community whereas I had to adapt to their culture in order to survive in their world. The more I tried to understand the world of hearing, the more confused I became. I aspired to become a part of the hearing world because it was all I really knew, and the perceived rejection that I had gotten from the Deaf community.
My Deafness was (and still is) considered to be an invisible disability. I was perceived to be normal until my hands started moving. People's lips began moving in a rapid pace. I was unable to keep up with what they were telling me. I ended up smiling shyly while shrugging and pointing at my ear to indicate my Deafness. They got the message and began to walk away as if me being Deaf was contagious.
I attended a public school with other hearing people all of my life. Very often, I ended up being the only Deaf person in the entire school. On the first day of classes, I often felt very apprehensive every time when I entered my new classroom. A thousand different thoughts swarmed through my head. Anxiously, I looked around while wondering how my Deafness was going to be perceived in the classroom.
This led me to feeling this way:
I am not Deaf enough to belong in the Deaf world yet I am not a part of the hearing world because I am Deaf.