“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
“What? Say that again?”, I repeated again as I increased the volume on the microphone headset I had over my ears.
“So, yesterday, I went to the store and picked up a babble babble babble and brought them to the counter. They babble babble babble…”, the voice over the microphone repeated itself, and I groaned inwardly as I tried to decipher the missing words.
I adjusted the headset on my head, and repeated back the words that was just spoken to me, “Okay, so yesterday, you went to the store, you picked up what? Then you brought them to the counter, and what happened then?” I asked.
I growled in frustration and before my friend could repeat what she said over the microphone, I interrupted her. “Look, can you just type that out for me? I’m sorry, but I can’t pick up some of the words you are saying. I’m sorry.”
As I watched the words come over the screen, I noticed movement behind me and I turned to find Anxiety, pacing back and forth. A bead of perspiration dripped down my forehead. I took a deep breath and turned back to the monitor, reading the rest of the conversation.
“Ah, I see. So you bought some milk, and you flirted with the cashier. I get it.”, I said with a little bit of some nervous laughter.
The microphone babbled once more, and this time all I could pick up was ‘cute’ and ‘nice ass’ and ‘gorgeous hair’. I rolled my eyes up, and typed back.
‘Look, my microphone is breaking up. Let’s type some more before I need to head to RL and do some errands.’ The words flashed by on the screen and I put down my headset, sighing in relief.
I turned around in silence and watched Anxiety as he continued to pace back and forth…back…and…forth. He straightened his shirt a few times, brushed his hair back with his hands, and continued, as always, in a vain attempt to look somewhat presentable in his current disarray.
I shook my head. “So, what’s bugging you? Well, us?”, I asked as I stared at the disheveled figure.
He stopped and looked at me, his mouth agape. “Whats wrong? What’s…WRONG?” his voice went up another octave.
“Umm, yeah. I asked first. What’s got you all worked up?”
“You were VOICING!”
“But…you…we…have a hard time with voicing.”
“You are severely hard of hearing. In fact, need I remind you that you are legally deaf?”, he waved his arms around as if he’s trying to prove a point. Which he hasn’t…yet.
“No, I didn’t need a reminder, but thanks though.”
“Oh c’mon! Voicing with people you never met, or you people you don’t know, it’s hard! First, the accents…then some females have high pitched voices, in which case you CAN’T hear, like, at all! Plus, your speech, is, well, umm, I don’t know, you kinda slur some of your words, like the S’s, and the L’s, and the T’s maybe. I don’t know, don’t you think people might make fun of you? Or treat you differently? Or, like, not want to voice with you again?”
“Tell me something I don’t know already,” I said calmly.
He just stared at me like I lost my mind.
I sighhhhhhed. One of my more patented sighs even.
“Look, I get it. I do. Do you not think I know this all already? That I can’t feel my own heartbeat racing? That my mind keeps spinning as I go over all the ‘What-ifs’ and ‘What-nots’? Times have changed, my friend, and I gotta change with it, you know? I can’t, I won’t and I never have used my disability as an excuse. I need to work with what I have, and just try to have faith in people. If they can’t accept me, then so be it. Just means they weren’t my friend anyway.” I shrugged as I ruminated over the past, as I often do.
“Yeah…,” I said slowly as I began to talk to myself. Which, I quite literally was.
“Yeah, you know, times changed. People changed. It’s not the same as it used to be, when I was growing up as this kid with a weird looking box strapped to my chest or my belt. Back then, you know, it was rare to see someone with a disability like mine going to a public school like I did. And guess what? I aced it. I graduated with honors. And never relied on sign language…which, in retrospect, I kinda wish I did learn it. I still can…”, I paused in my soliloquy as I ruminated some more.
“Anywho, where was I? Oh right. Then work happened…then life happened. Years gone by, technology got better, people changed. People are more open now, more accepting; at least the younger generation seems to be. Back when I got online, people weren’t voicing. It was all type. Or text. I mean, sure, people would use their phones and call each other, but I was able to maneuver around that. But I can’t now. No matter where I go, no matter what game or social media platform I use, people voice. So…I either get left behind, or I try too. Here I am, trying. And I’ll never stop trying.”
“All I can do is try. And believe that I can do it.”
Morale of the story? There isn’t one. Just that…I firmly believe everyone has a disability, in one way or another. Why? Because some disabilities aren’t what we’d call a disability, because it’s not disabling in any way, shape or form. While others have very real, very disabling, disabilities. But whatever our disabilities are, they are part of what makes us who we are, and are an essential part of our makeup.
It’s not always the case for everyone. Some people were born perfectly normal, and then developed some kind of disability through a life changing event, such as losing one’s leg in the middle of a war, or looking into the sun too long and finding yourself blind.
Others, like me, were born with what we have, and have to live with it. But for each, and every one of us, our disability is hard on us, no matter the severity of the disability. What we do with our disabilities separates those who want to do good, and those who give in to despair, depression, and other things.
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, because I’m not them. But I can relate…and I can help. And I’ll start off with telling you that it’s absolutely normal to have anxiety and/or depression if you have a disability. In fact, it’s very common. Even as I type this, I still continue to wrestle with the idea that I have a disability, and that there are, and always will be, roadblocks to deal with. Always will.
I never have and never will use my hearing loss as a crutch; instead, I should be using the aids offered to me as a crutch. Instead of being vain and refusing the help that is being offered out there, I should admit and accept the fact that I am different, not disabled, and that I am more than welcome to use whatever services are provided to me, because in the end, it’s my life, right?
But my first mistake was calling my hearing loss a disability. It is, in many ways, a huge disability, but it shouldn’t stop me from doing the things I love. And it shouldn’t be for you either. It’s a constant battle that we all have to go through, whether we like it or not, and I will be the first to admit defeat some days. But never, ever give up. Pick yourself up, and try again. You earned that right.
You Only Live Once.
Words to live by. Peace out.