Here's to the World of Silence

by Tyla Campbell

I am going into my last year of my undergrad. I've been hard of hearing since I was 4 years old. My parents made the choice to give me hearing aids and teach me how to talk. I have no clue how to sign. I am not at all involved in the Deaf community, and honestly it hurts.

There is a huge part of me that I feel I can only identify with to a certain extent because I love my family, but they can all hear. So they don't understand the frustration of watching TV and understanding 40% of it. I hate doing the fake smile like I know what's going on but it is what I've been doing my whole life. My ENT said I need to start letting people know I can't hear that's why I am asking them to repeat what they said. But my ENT doesn't realize, I am trying to hide my Deaf identity, not reveal it.

My whole life, everything that I know is the hearing world. To be honest, I've done my best to fit in, but I know there is a piece of me missing. I am very thankful for my experience thus far as a hard of hearing woman, with hearing aids, surrounded by hearing people. But I would love to know what my experience would be like to not wear my hearing aids. To sign. To be surrounded by a world of silence and feel like I fit in.

I have a long journey ahead in terms of facing, accepting and loving myself as a Deaf woman. I would be lying if I said I was not scared. Hearing is all I know but it doesn't have to be all that I am. Here's to trying to come out of the closet.