I was eight years old and sitting in front of my television. The volume was pretty loud and I couldn’t have been sitting more than five feet away from it. “Scoot back and turn the volume down” my mom repeatedly told me. As a boy who listened to his mom, I obeyed. However, I soon found out that something was wrong. When the volume was at what my mom believed to be an acceptable volume, I could not hear it. I soon realized that I needed the dreaded, and extremely out of the ordinary for kids: hearing aids.
Getting hearing aids has made me realize how much I am really missing. I often cannot hear someone who is talking across the room when the people surrounding me are busily chatting. The background noise is picked up more by my hearing aids because the hearing aids amplify everything that reaches them, which are mainly the closest noises. This is very frustrating because I am often the only one in the room who is unable to hear what is being said. When there is someone speaking to a group I am always quick to be quiet, and the reason is because I need it to be quiet in order to hear and comprehend what the speaker is saying. Subsequently, I have become much more at ease with my hearing aids, which as allowed me to be very successful in the classroom, and everywhere else.
When I was a quick to smile, young boy in second grade, I was much different then my peers. Out of my whole school of about 500 kids, I don’t think there was another kid with hearing aids. I remember my first day in school with my new electronic devices in my ears, and it was not a fun day. All day I carefully scanned the room, looking at everybody else’s ears, to see if anyone was modeling the same ear wear that I was. I was saddened to find out that I was the “ugly duckling” of our class, and as an eight year old, nothing could have been worse. It seemed like every minute I was being asked by my classmates what “those things” in my ears were. This definitely made my quest for success a much more difficult journey.
In middle school I grew my hair out much longer than I had in the past. It was the style then, but my main motive for doing it was to help hide my hearing aids under my hair. Being a middle school boy made me very interested in girls, and every middle school boy knows that girls want a cute, normal, and funny boy. They don’t want one with electronic devices hanging over his ears. Of course I today know that it is not the truth as I have an awesome girlfriend of over two years. But at that point in time it was tough, and I felt like they were going to inhibit my girl “getting” capabilities for the rest of my life. In the end it wasn’t my hair that helped me to “get the women. Instead it was me being myself, and I have learned throughout my life that it is very important to others, and actually the sign of a successful person.
In second grade when I got my hearing aids, there was a lady who came to my school once a week to meet with me. I can remember learning the stirrup, the anvil, and the hammer, as being the three main bones of the ear, and the cochlea being what processes the sound waves, before my peers were able to recite their multiplication tables. This gave me a lot of confidence, because understanding a disability is the first step to recovery. She also taught me the importance of eye contact and letting people know about my hearing loss. To this day I am much better at looking people in the eyes when they are speaking and this helps me everyday. This alone has probably greatly contributed to my success, and it will be very valuable in the workforce where a simple thing such as eye contact can be an invaluable skill.
I had to be around twelve at the time when we were once again on our annual fishing trip to Minnesota. We were at my uncle’s house, and everyone was outside by the lake. My cousins and I played on the dock, pretending to push the girls in and so forth. All of a sudden I was in the lake with my clothes on. Since I hadn’t been planning on going in the water, I was still hearing my hearing aids. The water had shorted out the hearing aids. Exasperated, I repeatedly blew on my hearing aids and wiped them with Kleenex. Nothing seemed to work. I thought that without them, I would not be able to do anything for the rest of our vacation. I was lucky though, as they eventually dried out and worked. From that day I learn that I had to mature quickly and be very careful because my hearing aids were very valuable to me. They are much more valuable then the steep price tag that comes with them designates because I absolutely need them to hear. There was not one else I could blame. After jumping in the pool and shower a couples times with them on, I got the hang of i
Being shy has been something that has plagued me since I was little also. When I was younger I always wanted my parents to talk to people I didn’t know, such as a waiter at a restaurant, or even one of the Disney characters at Disneyworld. When I was little I can remember hiding under the table at a Disney restaurant so I didn’t have to face Chip and Dale when they came to our table. Not only was I shy, but I also had trouble hearing others talking to me, especially in loud atmospheres. As I have gotten older however, I have learned to do things on my own, including talking to strangers. I know that this will benefit me for the rest of my life. This makes me very happy, because I know that when I am old I won’t look back and wish I had changed when I was young.
My hard work in overcoming my hearing and vision loss has definitely paid off because I have been successful. No one doubts my academic achievements as I have been Super Honor Roll all my years of high school, top of my class, and scored in the top two percentile of my class on the ACT test. I think that these achievements alone speak very loudly to others about my drive in life. For me, success can be defined by what kind of job I have, or what kind of car I drive, and some day I hope to have a great job, and a nice car. However, for me, success is defined as getting more out of life, and living to my potential as I have continued to do, regardless of the fact that I have a permanent hearing loss.