Chronicles of Deafness

Being deaf and meeting new people

Those who don’t communicate, trump themselves, as the late Chacrinha used to say. But deaf people have a certain panic about meeting new people – and hearing people. I even think that psychiatry could name a new phobia in our case.

Well, at least I’ m not ashamed to say that new people scare me in certain situations. After all, it’s one thing to know that you’re going to a well-lit place, without a lot of external noise, with people who move their lips well and speak clearly, and who also know that you have a hearing loss. It’s another thing to encounter the unknown.

For example: when we travel, if we don’t face this fear, the trip won’t be as fun as it would be if we did. That’s because communicating with new people and listeners in another language is almost a new world. Reading lips in English, French, Spanish, etc., and at the same time getting the brain to quickly process what has been heard is a huge challenge.

Honestly, I think our biggest fear is of people themselves, not of the language barrier. Fear of hearing people. Will they be patient? Or will they get bored with us in 10 minutes? Will they get annoyed at having to repeat the same thing over and over again? Will they make an effort to understand us if they have to? Anyway, will they laugh if we say something wrong?

Being deaf and meeting new people… in a foreign country

The great truth is that we need to give new people and listeners who come our way a chance. I surprised myself tremendously on vacation. I met people who didn’t give a damn about my hearing loss: they simply wanted to communicate with me, no matter how. We tried in Portuguese, Spanish, Portuñol, English and, if necessary, even with gestures. This led to good laughs, unforgettable conversations and new and everlasting friendships.

One night, I went to a party with people from all over the world. I thought it was great that no one mentioned the fact that I couldn’t hear very well. Everyone tried (and succeeded, thank God!) to talk to me for a long time. I won’t say it was easy, but I can say it was a delight. It was a different experience. Everyone just focused on the fact that I spoke another language, very different from here, where people focus on the fact that I don’t listen.

So, if I may offer a word of advice: allow yourself. Break down your own barriers. Face your worst fears. Deafness can be much more exciting than we think. And being able to overcome the challenges it imposes on us is one of the best feelings in life.

About Author

Paula Pfeifer é uma surda que ouve com dois implantes cocleares. Ela é autora dos livros Crônicas da Surdez, Novas Crônicas da Surdez e Saia do Armário da Surdez e lidera a maior comunidade digital do Brasil de pessoas com perda auditiva que são usuárias de próteses auditivas.

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