“I seem like a normal high school kid; I earn good grades, I play football, and I like socializing with the friends I’ve made. I like playing video games and browsing the web when I’m bored, just like any other teenager. But every teenager has his own traits that set him apart; my unique trait has an impact on the way I live my life. I have hearing loss in both ears.
Even though I wear hearing aids to correct my hearing loss, growing up and participating in activities has been a personal challenge. Making friends was always difficult because I’ve never been as adept as they were at making conversation. Whether it be because listening to them was an issue in itself with my hearing loss or because I used to feel ashamed of ‘those weird things in my ears,’ I still felt like I didn’t belong. That isn’t to say I’ve never been able to make friends. There were kids who saw me as more than that kid with those weird things in his ears. Sure, they were curious about my hearing aids, but after I explained to them what they were, the topic would never come up again.
As I’ve been going through my four years of high schools, I actually haven’t had to deal with the questions at all. I’ve become a better conversationalist, I’ve made a bunch of good friends, and most importantly, I learned early on that wearing the hearing aids is actually the smartest thing I could do. They help me when I’m trying to participate in conversations with friends and acquaintances, but they’ve most importantly given me an edge in my academics.
Being hearing impaired, listening to the teachers used to be as much of a struggle as making friends. Even with hearing aids, I found that it was still difficult. But the fact that it was harder for me to be a good student made me all the more determined to become one. I developed better listening skills as I grew older; paying attention to teachers has become a natural practice for me. In this regard, I guess one could say that being at a disadvantage gave me the opportunity to make myself a better person.
Experiencing hearing loss has also given me a soft spot for other people with disabilities. My hearing loss doesn’t prevent me from playing football, it never prevented me from being able to swim, and it certainly wasn’t even an issue as I worked as a lifeguard in the last two summers. Being a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Honor Student and an Advanced Placement Scholar, I’m not going to take what I do have for granted. I have the potential to change the world, and that’s just what I’m going to do.”R.P.T.