Jason Hoang (April 4th, 2018)
Why Did I Fight So Hard Not To Be Deaf
All my life, I’ve always felt people constantly judging me at school, on the street and even at home. Basically, everywhere.
“Who’s that guy with hearing aids” or “Aw I’m sorry he can’t hear” as if I can’t succeed in life. Mute, deaf and dumb, hearing impaired or problem in the ears are all commonly used to label me as a deaf person.
What the hell is wrong with me?
At elementary school, I was actually the happiest kid you ever know. I was always smiling widely and everyone especially my teachers loved me. I felt like I belonged in this world. My deaf and hard-of-hearing friends and I were able to communicate fully in sign language and it was amazing.
Fast forward to middle school, I couldn’t wait to show and share my toys with my deaf friends. To my surprise, he took it home with him and I was furious. I didn’t know how to express my feeling so I went home and cried without being seen.
During recess time, my deaf friends would play basketball. I was indeed terrible at it but I just wanted to fit in so I went ahead and played with them. I’d be picked last for the team. They would never really pass me the ball or include me at all. I was devastated.
I was rejected by my own community. In high school, where there are majority of hearing students, my Deaf peers tended to yell randomly in public and ran around like kids. They were completely silly and disrespectful. I was truly embarrassed so I ignored and acted like I’m not one of them. All those experiences made me believe that deaf are really dumb and immature. I didn’t want to be like them.
As a lonely kid, all I ever wanted is to fit in…
Instead, I saw hearing people being smart, mature, and happy on the surface. Just like that, I wanted to be normal like them. I tried to act like hearing by not acknowledging my deafness and mainly speak with my voice. ‘What?’ they normally reply whenever I try to speak. Deep down, I was mad at them for not understanding me so I kept repeating myself and acted like they should know what I was saying. Whether in a social group, I always nodded or laughed as if I understood what’s going on so that I feel included. Basically, this went on every fricking single day of my life trying to fit in with hearing people.
Twenty years later, I felt hopeless. I didn’t know why I was so unhappy or why I hated myself. It is what it is, I thought. I was born this way as a deaf person and there was nothing left for me but to riot.
But then… I got this text message from this Deaf person whom I met in college (you can read more about how I broke out of my shell). He was there for me. Why me?… To this day, I don’t really know why but I felt existed. I knew I needed to do something, just something so that I don’t feel stuck again. I started going to the gym and read several self-help books. When scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, many of my “friends” are married, traveling, and have a successful job. Why do I still feel sad? Something is missing in my life and I don’t really know what. Fuck this shit. So I bought a flight to Japan on an impulse.
You’d think I had the most amazing time of my life in Japan, right? No. Not exactly. Still, I felt the most loneliest person in the world. No mom, no friends, just me and the world. I learned that it’s okay to be alone and that’s when I started to love myself.
But something is missing. I don’t know what it is.
I knew it myself that I was gaining more experience and learning from these experience, I am becoming a better person. For that reason, my heart aches to travel more and I did. I went to Thailand. On that first day in Bangkok, my whole life changed. I randomly saw a group of three girls signing and for the first time in my life, I took it upon myself to approach and signed, “Hi, are you deaf? I am… deaf too!”. Just like that, we spent exploring together next two days which was the best days of my life. We connected and there is no better feeling, like I actually matter.
What I realized about fighting against myself is that I still felt lonely and depressed. After embracing who I am, I found something that fill the hole that was missing in my entire life.
If you are struggling with your identity right now, then you may feel this way like I had before. Let me tell you, embrace whatever you’re feeling right now even though it sucks hardcore. It’s what gonna make you even stronger as long as you don’t give up. I want you to know that you are not alone. You are never alone. There’s someone out there who deeply cares about you. Give yourself a chance and you may surprise yourself more than you ever know.