“If you could, would you ever change being hearing impaired?”
I wrap my hands around my coffee and raise the cup to my lips. The bitter liquid warms my throat. I open my mouth.
“Not a chance.”
The above excerpt is one of the last lines of my book, Hearing Differently. That answer is still the same, but there are days where I can’t help but wonder…what if?
What if I was born without hearing loss?
It’s natural to think about those ‘what ifs’, but sometimes it feels like you’re going after a pipe dream. When I used to imagine a life where I was born without hearing loss, I was left with feelings of bitterness and disappointment.
Why me? Why did I have to be born with this?
When I imagine a life without hearing loss now, I feel curious, but accepting and content with what I have now. I still wonder though!
What if I was born without hearing loss? What if I had that perfect hearing? What if there was no need for a hearing aid or a cochlear implant?
Everything and nothing would change.
My first thought went to how people would treat me. Sometimes, I feel like I get treated with more sympathy than needed because of my hearing loss. I think maybe life and people would have dealt me harsher truths faster if I didn’t have hearing loss.
Then I realized that the way people treated me wouldn’t be that much different than now. Hearing loss is an invisible disability, if people don’t see it, they don’t really acknowledge it.
The main thing that would change would be the person that I would have become if I didn’t have hearing loss.
The person that I am now can be contributed to the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve been through and the way I viewed myself.
The People I’ve Met
If I was born without hearing loss, I never would have met my itinerant teacher, Faye – who plays such a big role in my life.
I would have met most of the friends that I have now. But I wouldn’t have met all of the other people that I’ve gotten close to in the deaf and hard of hearing community.
The Experiences I’ve Been Through
If I was born without hearing loss, maybe I wouldn’t have spent most of my childhood reading, because I wouldn’t have to escape to books, and read everything that I couldn’t hear in reality.
I still would have that avid love of books, and still would have become a writer…but I would have never published the book that I wrote today, and go on to connect with more people in the deaf and hard of hearing community.
I would have still gone on the same vacations, and experienced the same bullying in the school yard – but for something different. Maybe I would have gone on a solo vacation earlier because there was no fear of travelling alone with hearing loss.
Other things like my taste in music, friends, movies, and other interests wouldn’t have changed, but the way I would view myself would.
The Way I Would’ve Viewed Myself
In my previous blog post, I talked about how I used to be anxious mentioning my hearing loss to people for the first time, and I grew up pretending that I didn’t have it. In fact, in this podcast, I talk about how I used to let it stop me from doing what I wanted.
All of those insecurities would have been gone. I would have been more confident in myself earlier on and more outspoken. I would have pursued my passions earlier because nothing would have stopped me. I would have been a teenager that would have tried so many different hairstyles, rather than keeping it down to cover my cochlear implant.
But then, I thought about it…that’s probably not true. Another insecurity would have taken its place, and I would have spent that life wondering ‘what if I didn’t have that?’
This is something that I used to think a lot about. I would think about how much easier a lot of things would be like talking to people in louder settings, going to concerts, and being able to talk on the telephone.
But if I was born without hearing loss, all of this wouldn’t matter because I would be taking it for granted.
I’m glad to have been born with hearing loss, it gave me the opportunity to meet so many new people, to publish a book, to have more empathy and to not take something that comes easily to others for granted.