By Mac Pomeroy
My hearing is trash. This statement is not being dramatic or mean to myself. I genuinely have really bad hearing. Normally, this doesn’t bother me too much. I am a writer, so silence is bliss. However, sometimes this gets in the way.
I do have hearing aids, probably some of the best that exist. Unfortunately, technology only has come so far. Background noises, echoes and general crowds still get in the way. It’s safe to say I genuinely will never hear the same as everyone else.
This causes me to struggle with verbal communication, especially with people who speak at certain pitches and speeds. I often find myself asking people to repeat themselves. Realistically, I don’t do this as often as one would imagine, and even so, those around me are very understanding. But it still feels rough.
Sometimes, I feel like I am dumb because I struggle with something that should be easy. My hearing also causes me to second guess my own speaking. As a whole, verbal communication is something I struggle with.
I am definitely far from alone on this. You don’t have to have hearing problems to struggle with speech. Hell, even those without disabilities or medical conditions have trouble with conversations due to things like anxiety about finding the right thing to say.
Speech is a normal part of everyday life. It’s as basic and human as eating, breathing or sleeping. So when you find yourself struggling with it, you can start to feel less than human. You may question your own intelligence and feel disconnected from those around you.
I hope what I’ve stated so far has been enough to back up what I am about to say: Struggling with communication does not make you any less intelligent than anyone else. Communicating in ways other than speaking in the English language is just as valid and important.
I was much more upset and insecure regarding my communication skills when I was younger. It felt like people were not always willing to be patient when I needed something repeated and dismissed me as a whole. It’s hard to feel smart or worthwhile when others treat you this way due to something out of your control.
But then a few years ago, I saw a moment on television. A woman was crying because her family was making fun of her English skills, explaining that she was very bright in her own language. That moment stuck with me, and it made me think.
While my issue is not language, it is still related to communication. So I may not be perfect at speaking, but my words show best when writing. This has given me hope to keep trying, and now despite the minor frustrations that pop up, I am no longer afraid of communicating.
So if you find yourself having trouble communicating in a verbal way, think of what communication really means. Find your “language,” or a way that works better for you. Regardless of how you speak or listen, you have words of your own. Find your way to tell your story.