♥ It’s true that life sometimes just seems to drag you down and you can’t see the field for the trees. Or, the sunlight in the field that is obscured by the trees. I could go on. Anyway, I had a bit of a crisis last night because I spent about two hours (rather than getting some much needed sleep) looking at jobs and what sort of jobs I might be qualified for. Instead I felt more and more depressed. Instead of feeling that I might have the skills and brain to be able to do many different jobs, I started feeling dragged down by the idea that I might not have the talent or chance to succeed with what I really want to do, which is write. I want to write book reviews, political or topical features, fiction and non fiction alike.
Instead of feeling optimistic and pushing myself further, I feel like there is absolutely no point sometimes – there are so many writers out there, so many people who are pushing to be in the same place that I want to be. What makes me any different from them? I know, we all have a story to tell, in different ways, in different voices. I love that the world is full of stories and voices that I haven’t read yet. I’m a bookophile, books are important to me. I wrote in my notebook yesterday that I think the reason I feel down is because when I went to the day school for the OU on Saturday, I was expecting too much, was maybe expecting subconsciously that everyone would be chatty and inclusive.
I’m happy with my deafness, but I think people don’t always know how to act or communicate with me. Dan came as my notetaker at short notice because I was too lazy to sort out a notetaker from the RNID (and left it far too late) and as a result asked if he wanted to come along and take notes for me. It was more relaxed for me because of that (I think if I had a strange notetaker there with me, I might have been even more nervous and shy than I actually was).
The thing is, every time I go out into the world, I am hit by some sort of roadblock. I want to talk to people and help them to understand that every deaf person is different and subsequently have different communication needs and preferences, but I think that because I have lived in an accepting environment at home and with my friends, it still comes as a shock when people act differently towards me. Perhaps it was because I was the youngest there in my tutor group? Sure, I feel pretty mature and old enough to hold my own, but maybe they didn’t see me that way, thinking I was younger than I actually am.
Then again, I think I’m quite neurotic and overly sensitive when it comes to these sort of things. I tend to go into a situation and either people pay too much attention to me (trying to get it right with communication etc), or sort of ignore me because they don’t know how to deal with it. I pay too much attention to things that other people don’t, because I have to be observant, lipread and as a result I read people’s body language all the time.
People don’t always realise how much body language and expression convey to other people. I feel that 90% of human interaction is unspoken – it is actions, expression and personal body language (eg. personal tics, how they move, etc). When I say things like ‘she seemed quite nervous today’ – other people are like ‘really? I don’t think so, I didn’t notice’, or they think I’m seeing things.
Then there are those times where I turn that inwards and feel like if I was more careful about what I say or my body language, maybe people would act differently. I know that I can be tense and perhaps not put myself across as clearly as I would like – I get tongue tied and sometimes thoughts fly out of my head when it is time for me to speak.
I’m not a gibbering idiot or anything, I’m quite coherent when I’m mid to highly relaxed. This isn’t a deaf thing, by the way. I’ve met many deaf people who can talk the hind leg off a donkey if they want to. I’m like my Dad in this respect; he is quite nervous in social situations. I do think that being deaf has something to do with it sometimes – feeling left out, feeling too shy to ask someone to repeat themselves often.
Hearing interaction is very different to deaf interaction, I feel, because hearing people banter a lot and can race forward jumping from subject to subject without having to tell someone the context of what they are talking about. If a topic changes, sometimes deaf people are not aware of it and think what is being discussed is still the same thing as before.
This leads to a lot of red faces and stuttering embarrassment, but sometimes it can be quite funny, depending on the subject. Having a sense of humour when you’re deaf is very important, otherwise things would be too grim and depressing – because the whole world feels like a hearing person’s world, just as it is still a man’s world, for the most part. Everybody has some sort of prejudice, sometimes without questioning that prejudice.
It’s strange how there is some assumption that because I can speak, I wasn’t born deaf. I pretty much was born deaf, but it has dropped over time. Sure, I can say, ‘oh my god, it’s so sad’, but really I don’t feel that way and resent it when other people feel sorry about it. People can’t imagine a world different to how they see the world, how someone might just have a happy and different interaction with the world that doesn’t involve hearing so much or seeing so much. As a deaf person, being blind is an awful contemplation, but for a deafblind person, they are able to cope okay and live their lives. So who are we to feel ‘sorry’ or ‘pity’ someone unless they feel sorry for themselves? Human experience is a vast and diverse thing.
Reading and books are a massive thing to me because they are the places where it doesn’t matter if you’re deaf or not. I come across some things in books that make me angry, particularly when it is a comment about a deaf person or a deaf character who is nothing like a deaf person (the assumption that deaf people are ignorant or not able to know what is going on, for example), but for the most part, books have fed my need to have a great ‘leveller’.
It is the same as writing is a great leveller – we are mostly all the same when we write or read (I know that there are various issues faced by people, like blindness and issues with typing/writing, but I include here audio description, speech recognition and so on). The world out there is a minefield – people look away, mumble, cover their mouths, look annoyed when asked to repeat something, are motormouths, over-mouth (TALKING—LIKE—THIS – which really doesn’t help a bit, believe me), shout (what use is that if people lipread??). There are announcements which are not put into text, people suddenly leaving a station (I think most people get that it’s an alert, but it can be momentarily confusing), and so on.
So yeah, you can’t blame me for feeling torn between trying to change the world and retreating into a fictional world of books and the internet. The truth is, I do want to change the world for deaf people, for women, for men, for people who need chances. When I look at job descriptions, they are so corporate and scary. I don’t know what they are talking about – it sounds ludicrous to describe something in such cold and uninspiring terms. It makes you wonder what they are asking of you. It is very confusing, and then eventually depressing if you feel like the world has become this sort of capitalist blank surface. I want to write about it, for the need for inclusion and acceptance of difference. For compassion and seeing what people have to offer – because everyone has something.
My sister thinks I should be thinking outside the box, and she’s right. We all sort of become afraid to step outside that box and think differently from another perspective. Yeah, I need money, but at the same time, it would be pointless to get stuck in a job when you would rather be doing something else. A lot of people see a job as a means to an end; that’s fine, I’m not knocking that. Maybe I have all these expectations of myself and of what I know and have learnt – I want to prove something to myself. Yet I don’t want to get lost in corporate jargon and ‘top end’ salaries or something. I’m too much of a hippy at heart. ♥
Image from We Heart It.