This was me at age of 6. Like many kids at this age, I had an innocent and naive way of looking at the world. I thought nothing about me being Deaf, and my deafness certainly did not bother me. I thought it was a normal thing--to be Deaf. I didn't see myself as different from my peer. I did not know about injustice, discrimination, rejection, and becoming aware of my difference from others. Soon I was going to find out.
This was me as a Sophomore in high school. Like many other teenagers out there in the world, I wanted to be accepted, and to fit in. I had my share of struggle with my Deafness. Throw in some teenage angst, and typical teenager attitude along with my growing awareness of how different I was from others. At this age, I did not want to be Deaf. I did not like being Deaf. I was ashamed of this part of who I was.
This was me after graduate school. I definitely had made a huge leap from my angst self in high school to exploring what I was all about in college to learning about my Deaf identity during graduate school. I definitely had grown up a lot during my graduate school years. I learned so much about my values, my culture, people I befriended with, dealing with a long distance relationship with Stu while I was living in Washington DC and Minnesota, overcoming my challenges, and most importantly of all, embracing my Deaf identity.
In my 27 years of life, I certainly have experienced life's challenges, and it has been a great journey so far. I've been asked this so many times throughout my life, and it is a really great question. If I ever have a chance then would I choose hearing or remain Deaf?
My answer may be both surprising and typical to you. I would rather remain Deaf even if I have a chance to end up with a perfect hearing. I'd be able to hear my son, my husband, the sounds, music, and so many more. I would be able to speak. There won't be as much obstacles to overcome, and having to constantly educate people about my identity. Sure, life might be a bit easier if I am able to hear and speak. So why remain Deaf?
The way I see it, I am Deaf for a reason, and my deafness is there to teach me life lessons. It is just not there to provide life challenges and lessons for me to learn from, but also for others to learn from as well. Once upon a time, I might have felt burdened by Deafness, and have caused me to go through some difficult times in my life yet at the same time, I feel that it had happened for a purpose. My life is not easy. It never has been. Then again, whose life is easy anyway? Every person I meet throughout the years, they all have stories, experiences, obstacles, something to get through, some unfinished business to complete, time to be served, something to be repented for, a debt to pay off, regrets to be replaced with things to be rejoiced, and lessons to learn from. Hearing or Deaf, never have I met a person who has said to me that his or her life has been so easy, so perfect, and there is absolutely nothing to be worried about.
It may have taken me a long while to embrace my Deafness, to truly accept who I am, and love me for me. I certainly would not want to change who I am. If I do then my life would have been different. I would not have done things I experienced, met so many wonderful people, learned from my negative experiences and people who have hurt me, found my inner strength, gain an unique perspective of the world, fallen in love with a wonderful man and having our son, and most importantly of all, I won't be me.
As Albert Einstein had once said, "There are two ways to look at life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is."
In a way, I believe that my Deafness has compelled me to look at my life as a miracle. If I do choose to become a hearing person then would I continue to view my life as a miracle? That's the bigger question that I don't want to find out.