I Am Deaf and... | Teen Ink

I Am Deaf and... MAG

By Tania K., Palos Park, IL

     As a child, there was nothing I loved more than tiptoeing through the house, arms over my head like a ballerina. I can still remember the thrill of trying on my tutu and tiara for my first dance recital. During my entire life, even during my transition from a noisy world to a quiet one, dancing has always been my escape.

I was first diagnosed with hearing loss in kindergarten after I failed a routine screening. As I got older, my hearing worsened with each checkup. Until high school, I worked tirelessly to be “normal.” Though I had hearing aids, I chose not to wear them. Instead, I laughed at jokes when I didn’t hear the punch lines. I developed a skill for lip-reading, “watching” conversations rather than hearing them. I refused to tell anyone about my hearing problem, not even close friends or teachers.

As my hearing deteriorated, it began to affect my dancing. It became difficult to hear the music. My dance teacher often scolded me for “not listening,” when in reality I couldn’t hear her instructions. I grew frustrated with my disability and saw it as a barrier between me and my love: dance.

Then a few years ago, I stumbled on the webpage of Miss America 1995, Heather Whitestone. As I read her biography, I felt as if I were reading my own life story. Whitestone was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of 18 months. Like me, she encountered hardship and embarrassment growing up, and like me, she was a dancer. Whitestone inspired me to continue doing what I loved, no matter what. She made me realize that my deafness should never be an excuse not to achieve my goals.

From then on I resolved to change. I worked up enough courage to tell my dance instructor about my hearing loss. I told her I would need a visual cue in order to keep track of the music. She agreed to stand a few feet in front of me, clapping her hands to the song’s rhythm. This method has helped me through countless dance classes and performances.

This experience had a profound impact, inspiring me to change other paths of my life. I began advocating for myself by discussing my hearing loss with teachers and friends. I started sitting in the front row in class and working with teachers to make sure I understood. I no longer shy away from situations that require me to interact with others; instead, I have become a “people person” because I can empathize with others’ situations.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Five years ago, I never would have imagined I’d one day be so successful. I have broken through the glass ceiling for deaf people. I have done well in honors and AP classes and been elected to leadership positions at school. I work hard to conquer my hearing loss while still maintaining a positive attitude. I have spoken to groups of deaf teenagers, always giving the same message: With courage and confidence, all barriers can be overcome. I am deaf, but never doubt, I am a dancer.

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This article has 7 comments.

rheame said...
on Jan. 2 2014 at 6:23 am
rheame, Anand, Other
0 articles 0 photos 64 comments

Favorite Quote:
turn a mess into a lesson

a test into testimony

a trial into triumph
and a victim into champion

very inspiring and fantastic  

on Oct. 11 2011 at 8:42 pm
Scarlett_Fever945, Glendale, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I don't care how many time's you've fallen, messed up, or felt like things can't get any worse. Get up, man up, keep going, and don't ever look back. Nobody can stop you from fulfilling your dreams except you."

That was beautiful and very inspiring.  It kept me interested the whole time (kudos to you, I have ADD like mad), and it was completely non-cliched. Keep writing(:

on Aug. 20 2011 at 10:27 am
Sapphire_wing BRONZE, Fukuoka, Other
1 article 0 photos 11 comments

After reading this I was speachless. Its just so... beautiful.

Really beautiful and shows how you felt, how dealt with it and you are really lucky to have people around you who helps you and understands you.
Thanks for posting this article. :)

on Jul. 28 2010 at 12:36 pm
ramnapotter PLATINUM, Toronto, Other
26 articles 1 photo 90 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow...”

beautiful piece . hearing loss or not , you really showed that you are a beautiful person aside from the disability . and i believe it , i really do . (: thanks for the inspiration , hunn .

on Feb. 20 2010 at 6:09 pm
alwayssunshine PLATINUM, Charlotte, North Carolina
24 articles 5 photos 147 comments
Very emotional and inspiring.

on Apr. 11 2009 at 3:37 pm
YeseniaG SILVER, Livonia, Michigan
7 articles 1 photo 122 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is what happens when you're busy making plans.

That was an amazing peace,and I love the message you are sending to teens. Your courage is also very admirable.

AlexxxX GOLD said...
on Feb. 19 2009 at 11:47 pm
AlexxxX GOLD, Wichita, Kansas
18 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
\"A wise man makes more oppatunities then he finds\"

That is awsome, I cant even iagine what my life would be like without dance and that is just amazing that you can persue that and dont let anyone judge you that is really awsome, Marlee Matlin was prfoundly deaf and she did Dancing with the stars and she did really well.