Friday, April 1, 2016

Deaf or Hearing: It Doesn't Matter

      Ever have one of those days where you think, "If I was hearing, [insert dramatic situation here] wouldn't happen," or "If I was deaf, [insert different dramatic situation here] wouldn't be so problematic." I have thought, "If I was..." countless times, and each time, I tell myself to snap out of it. Immediately. It's not that these thoughts are bad or terrible, but they sometimes have the ability to make me feel depressed or disappointed in myself, all for something that I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER.
      Other people may wonder "If..." about me, like why am I not more hearing? Or more deaf? This is a pointless question. I could act like I hear, but there will always be some things that I miss. I could act like I am deaf, but I will not deny that I like to hear--especially music and my own voice. I was born in between two worlds, and I must make my in-between world habitable. I still do not know how to that yet...
      But the question, what if I was born differently, is absolutely absurd. Here's why--there is no possible way to know the answer. I cannot clone myself, restore or take away my clone's hearing, mimic exact identical environmental conditions, and accurately measure results. Even if that experiment could somehow happen, what would I do with the results? If both clones do 'worse' than me, than I should be happy where I am? Or if one or the other clone does 'better' than me, how do I use that result for my own benefit? I am not going to make multiple 'mini-mee's" just so that I can truly know whether I'll be better or worse off! It is however, entertaining to ponder this questions. So let's see what could happen if the above hypothetical scenario played out:
  • 100% hearing me: I would imagine her to be a fast-talking debater with a huge social outreach. She probably would be easily distracted in class, she can hear every word the teacher is saying wihtout using a microphone and she would be engaged in whispered side-conversations. She would excel in some classes, do so-so in other classes, and fail study hall (the reason is that she's too busy talking with friends). On the whole she would be a good student, a good conversationalist, but she has no connection to the Deaf world. She might never hear about the Deaf world, and think deafness is for aging people who just need powerful hearing aids to get by. As a result, she's not as empathetic with people. And she would not have a dog, no matter how many times she pleaded with her mom.
  • 100% Deaf me: Let's say that cochlear implants were not an option. Her parents start learning sign language, but also try to do some speech therapy. She is happier signing, so her parents sned her to a school for the Deaf. She has a huge support community and friends who also sign. Like hearing me, she can understand the teacher and engage in side conversations with friends, but with ASL. She is a good student, probably a math champion. Unfortunately, the deaf school is a boarding school. She still sees her parents on weekends and holidays, but she is gone for so long. She probably still would not have a dog, because she is away at school most of the time.
      Both "mini-me's" are good students with skills and strengths, but hearing me loses empathy, while Deaf me loses a tight-knit family, and both certainly do not have a dog (I think this last point especially is a deal-breaker for me). I have the best of both worlds--I am a good student; I am empathetic towards others; and I have a great family, which includes Oreo, the dog (Thanksgiving).
      My conclusion from my thought experiment: I like who I am!

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