Back in my college days, I sat with a career counselor to try and figure out what I wanted to major in. Shortly after becoming deaf from a fall while barefoot water skiing, I transferred to a local university after completing one year at a community college. Even though I grew up hard of hearing, the new change of becoming deaf was a big adjustment. Suddenly, I could no longer hear anything without a hearing aid. I was living in a dorm where nearly everyone used sign language.
"I'm thinking about nursing," I said. I envisioned myself working in a labor and delivery department, handing over newborn babies to smiling moms.
The counselor had a deep look of concern on her face. "I don't think that would be a good major for you," she said. "How will you hear the doctor? What if you can't understand the patients?"
By the end of the session, I was pretty convinced that nursing wasn't going to be the path I could handle. I chose a safe alternative instead: counseling. I graduated with a B.S. and M.A. in counseling and went off to work.
Fast forward a few years...
I met deaf and hard of hearing engineers, architects, race car drivers, pro athletes, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, and yes, nurses.
When I was growing up, I didn't have any real-life role models of deaf and hard of hearing people, despite being from a family with deaf and hard of hearing siblings, a deaf mom and several deaf and hard of hearing aunts and uncles. Helen Keller was my famous "hero" to learn from and I couldn't really relate to her at the time. I measured myself against people who had normal hearing, and because they could do so much more, the measurement of my abilities slipped down several notches. My self-esteem tanked as a result.
Today, I'm a very different person than I was as a hard of hearing teen. Becoming deaf turned out to be a blessing for me because I experienced a complete paradigm shift; I grew into acceptance and on to celebration. This message of celebration is one which I share with everyone I meet and it is included in two of my books: The Parenting Journey, Raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and The Passionate Lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.
My life is really full--I run my own business from home, work for a non-profit, and spend my days water skiing on my bare feet. Do I have any regrets about not becoming a nurse? In hindsight, no. I would have made a terrible nurse as I don't like blood and needles freak me out. I went on to indulge my dream of attending births by becoming a doula and volunteering to care for boarder babies at a local hospital.
The world is wide open to those who are deaf and hard of hearing. The key is to find your passion and take the steps to live it. If it hasn't been done before, you just might have to blaze the way.
"Life is too short to pout all the time."
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Blogger: Monica Hood
I created Deaf Insight to help spread deaf awareness. It is a place for everyone to come together to help share with the world! In this blog, I discuss my thoughts about many things. I hope you all enjoy it!