There was a short period of time when I was a deaf hairdresser.
I know that sounds odd, but it’s possible. I’m completely deaf in my right ear and that brings along it’s own challenges.
I was “deaf” in both ears for just over a month and it made me see so many things about life that had never occurred to me.
Here’s what happened to me…
A few years ago I came down with a sudden and serious ear infection. I haven’t had one since I was a child, so I wasn’t sure what would happen. The thought of “losing” my other ear had never crossed my mind(as I’m sure my mother had though about it at some point).
In less than a day I lost over 80% of hearing in my “good” ear. I didn’t think about it much because the pain was unbearable. I didn’t want to move and any sound or movement around me made the pain even worse.
A day or so into it I started to get depressed. I started to think about the possibility of never hearing “normally” again. My normal is different than most people’s when it comes to hearing, but that was something I had taken for granted.
Silence at its best…
I felt disconnected from the world around me. Going in public was unusual, but I just smiled and nodded at people. That was a plus because I felt like I was more friendly than I was when I could hear. I even found myself refraining from talking because the vibrations sounded funny and felt uncomfortable. I was living like any other deaf person…..or so I thought.
Driving was awkward because I could “hear”(or feel) the movement of the car more than I could anything else. I could not turn the radio on because that would add to the pain(not to mention I couldn’t hear it anyways), but the thought of actual silence was new. I loved to listen to my favorite cd on the parkway as I drove to work. It was such a relaxing drive, but I was at the mercy of my own thoughts for personal serenity for the first time in my life.
Silence is so unusual when it’s your only option.
Being or feeling alone…
Despite the inability to hear actual music during my daily commute, I heard my favorite tunes in my mind as I took the scenic route to the salon. Being alone with yourself is uncomfortable enough for some people…just imagine being alone with your own thoughts every single day.
Think about how much time you watch tv or listen to the radio. Think about the time you spend talking to friends.
Now, imagine spending all of that time with no one other than yourself. There’s a certain emptiness and feeling of being so far away from everyone around you that’s hard to bear.
Here’s where my feelings changed…
After about a week I started to find peace in my situation. I read several blogs and comments from people that experienced similar situations to mine. I read stories from women that just woke up deaf one morning, and I felt blessed that I was not in that situation(even though that’s kinda what happened to me…I assumed that my situation was temporary…and later I would find that it was).
I related to their stories and I felt at peace because I was not the only one going through this. I wasn’t the only one feeling these feelings. Some of those women regained their hearing and some did not. Those stories confirmed my many thoughts that we all should live every day like it’s our last. We should live every day to it’s fullest because we never know what tomorrow might bring.
What if you wake up tomorrow and open your eyes….only to discover that you cannot see? What if you get in a car accident this week and lose your legs? Would you regret missing that sunset with your husband or hiking that trail you said you’d “catch next time”. I know this is surreal to some people in thought, but it’s our reality.
Life changes in the blink of an eye, and no one thinks it will until it happens.
And when I saw life differently…
One day while shampooing one of my clients I realized that I was “missing out” on all of the negativity around me.
I couldn’t hear my coworkers or clients complaining about their job or other things happening in their life.
I just smiled at everyone and they smiled back.
Silence, for once, was golden!
That day I felt so content with myself and my life. Once you eliminate the noise around you…you can truly experience your daily life as you should. I think this is hard for most people to do without the loss of a major sense(simply imagining it is not enough), but it would change everyone’s outlook on life!
I can remember being at the shampoo bowl and my manager, Diane, smiling at me. Her smile was filled with warmth and I could see that she really cared about my well-being. She was comforting me with her expressions rather than her words and I really appreciated that moment.
Unbeknownst to her….I had been to an interview for a position at a salon that would open soon. I got the job, but I didn’t feel good about it. I didn’t feel the warmth and consideration from the people that would become my new managers and coworkers as I did from Diane and Jill(our assistant manger at Bubbles). That’s why that short moment at the shampoo bowl sticks in my mind so vividly.
After Diane smiled at me I smiled back. Then I felt sad because deep down I felt like the decision I would soon make was the wrong one. I was conflicted because I was strong-willed and I thought that growth in my career meant making moves and making changes.
I thought that it meant moving on for the better….I was so wrong about that. I should have listened to my heart. I should have stayed with the family(salon) that I felt a part of in more ways than one.
I’m sharing this story for two reasons:
- I recently had the opportunity to hear Marlee Matlin speak about being deaf in the job force at my ERA real estate conference. As the keynote speaker this year, her speech was about overcoming obstacles and reaching goals that seem hard to meet. It was about doing things that you dream of and knowing that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. She spoke about the problems she had to overcome and how the people around her judged her accomplishments. Her speech brought back memories and inspired me to write about how I felt when I lost my hearing.
- Sometimes things happen because they’re meant to open our eyes. Some things are meant to show you what you have and help you to appreciate your life as it is. Life isn’t always about progression. There are times to progress, and there are times to appreciate where you are right now.
Being content with “now” is one of the most important factors to success. I wish I hadn’t learned that the hard way. I hope that anyone reading this can take something from it and look at life with a new light!
No matter what profession you’re in…remember…the grass isn’t always greener on the other side! Take a moment and think about what you appreciate in your life right now and realize that it’s more than many people have to be thankful for.
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