Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why me? Why not?

Helen Keller once said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one, which has been opened for us.” Most people think when they are in a bad situation, “Why Me?” If those people looked at the bright side, they might find that question being “Why Not?” Being deaf has taught me that things don’t have to be horrible, if you don’t think of it that way.

At the time I was implanted, people thought that not a lot of things could be done to help a deaf child, besides giving them hearing aids and teaching them sign language. My parents had me implanted with cochlear implants, which with a lot of hard work and dedication helped me to hear and speak like a person with normal hearing. Since I was one of the first people in the area to undergo this surgery, and succeed with flying colors, it allowed me to be a role model for those that are still struggling with their implants. I actually have a deaf pen pal that recently got her second implant and she often asks me questions about mine. Since I have been in the same situation, I can let her know that she has someone there to support her.

Thinking positively and thinking “why not?” about being deaf has made me realize a lot of things. For starters, it has made me a more resilient person because I have learned not to take things so seriously. For example, if someone has a hard time getting my attention, I don’t get offended. This is an opportunity for me to inform them about my deafness. If I had normal hearing, I probably wouldn’t have experienced some of the things that I have in my life, such as Imagination Celebration, or Dancing with the Deaf. I have also had the opportunity from the Dallas Hearing Foundation to meet Miss America 1995, who is deaf. Meeting her showed me that the possibilities are endless when it comes to dreams and making them come true. Also, I have learned to advocate for myself in certain situations. This prepares me for when I go to college and I have to make sure that I get what I need to be able to hear because no one will be there to do it for me. Also, being deaf has made me strive to succeed in things that most people don’t expect a deaf person to succeed in such as being a dancer in Drill Team. I’m an excelling mainstream student, and I’m in the National Honors Society. Next year, I will be able to partake in Dual credit college courses. Being deaf has also helped me appreciate technology and its advancements over the years because those advancements have allowed me to improve my hearing. I have also participated in various studies and research involving deaf people, such as the study that showed me that I am deaf because of genetics. As a result of these studies, I’m now informed about how this could affect my own children. Also, this research could be beneficial to other people who are thinking about getting an implant. The best thing about thinking “Why not?” about my deafness is that it makes me more compassionate towards those who are struggling with something in their lives. I am this way because my own experiences have shown me that people are different. As a result, I don’t judge people.

Because I have not let my being deaf stop me from anything, I have the opportunity to do things in my future that many deaf kids haven’t considered doing. One of those things is going to a college that is not specifically for deaf kids. I also have the opportunity to be more independent in my life. I will be able to get a job with minimal restrictions on the things that I am allowed to do just because I’m deaf. I get to do these wonderful things because I said “Why not?”

I’m not saying that it is easy for me, because it’s not. I am saying that there are ways around every challenge, and you can persevere in whatever you want to accomplish. For every bad day, or even a bad medical diagnosis there is always something positive. So the next time you are in a bad situation instead of thinking “Why me?” think positively and think “Why not?”

Kelsey Rohr


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