I spoke about Deaf Confidence a few months back.
What is Cochlear Confidence?
I’ve only been wearing my cochlear for three months but I’m sharing what I’ve experienced thus far as a novice. I would love to know what’s cochlear confidence to CI users who’ve been wearing theirs for more than 10 years. Their confidence must be magnificent! I’ve met a few myself and would love to hear what they have to add.
CC1: After Switch-on
The confidence to keep wearing your cochlear after switch-on. Our world we once knew doesn’t sound the same anymore. It sounds alien, confusing and loud. Nothing makes sense. But you still persevere to try and listen with it until everything starts to sound clearer.
CC2: Be Frank
The confidence to be honest enough to tell your family, friends and work colleagues that you’re still deaf even if you hear really well, you can not go further than a certain point because no matter how many times you’ve practiced or how long you’ve been wearing your cochlear, you are still deaf. People must understand they’ll still have to repeat, they’ll still have to make sure you see their lips, the’ll still need to tap you to get your attention after you don’t hear them call your name.
CC3: The Test
The confidence to allow people to test you by covering their mouths or standing behind your back to see how much you can hear what they are saying. They also want to give you a phone call. Sometimes it’s annoying especially when you are really tired, super busy or just not in the mood. Have the confidence to say no nicely if it’s not the right time. When you do go through with it, and they see you are still not hearing what they’re saying, you have to deal with their disappointment as well as your own. During times like these, tell yourself it’s okay, you can only hear so much. On the other hand, when you do hear what they’re saying, you feel so amazing and they are so amazed! Celebrate every little thing you hear! It’s an achievement!
CC4: No Rainbow Without Rain
The confidence to celebrate the good and bad days of your implant. Because you need both to learn, to grow and to appreciate. Put yourself out of your comfort zone. Play with your wireless accessories like the phone clip, microphone, aqua cover etc. Ask your colleagues to speak to you with a sheet of paper covering their mouths. Listen to voice notes. Take phonecalls. Listen to music. Challenge yourself. Stimulate your brain. Even if you can only hear so much, pat yourself on the back for taking this daring step!
CC5: Wear It With Pride
The confidence to wear your cochlear openly without embarrassment and shame. Why hide who you are so people can accept you? Let them stare. Let them point. Let them talk about it. Let them ask. Hold your head high, wear your cochlear like a crown. Be who you are and the right people will love and respect you for you. Feel confident. Feel beautiful. Feel unique. Add some colour to your cochlear. Why should fashion stop at your clothes? Be stylish!
CC6: Laugh It Off
The confidence to laugh at yourself how wrong you’ve heard. It can be so hilarious! Do not beat yourself up. Be gentle, patient and persistent. Be your best friend. Be the person you would turn to for encouragement and support.
CC7: Love Your Voice
It’s a favourite question for people to ask how they sound. Have the confidence to admit it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Honestly. Secondly have the confidence to love your own voice. Some Deaf react with horror at how badly they sound and want to improve it by going to speech therapy. It’s so great to notice and want to improve but also remember you’ve been sounding like that for years and people still like you and your company. You are more than your voice, your speech and your deafness.
CC8: Be Realistic
When people have high expectations of what you can hear, have the confidence to gently remind them that you’ll never be hearing like they are but you are hearing better than before. Yes a lot of money was spent to get the implant but let’s be realistic. CI isn’t a miracle, it creates miracles everyday. It takes time. Lots of time. Be patient with them and yourself. Focus on the journey, not the destination. You’ll be amazed how much fun it is to learn something new everyday.
CC9: Deaf Unity
Some deaf people think you’re better than them because you can hear better, speak better and perhaps seem more sure of yourself. Have the confidence to gently let them know that you are still deaf, that you aren’t better than them but rather better-equipped to deal with everyday situations in a hearing society. Learn a sign language to bridge the gap between the two deaf cultures. Hang out with them to let them know you still enjoy their company. You help them, and they help you with what you both good at. There’s no competition, there’s no who-is-superior. We all share a deafness, it should unite not separate us.
Have the confidence to speak about your implant when people ask out of curiosity and interest. Do not be embarrassed. Be proud of what you’ve gone through to reach the point of where you are now. People love stories of hope and courage. They would really appreciate it. It’ll remind them how blessed they are to have hearing. It’ll inspire them to put their faith back in humanity.
I’m still on my cochlear journey, there are a lot of things yet to experience. I look forward to it with an open mind and heart and an adventurous spirit! Please join me to be confident CI users because many deaf people can benefit from the implant. Yes there are risks, yes it’s a lot of money, yes it won’t make you hearing, but why deny yourself the beauty of sound? The waves crashing, the birds’ wings flapping, water running, the voice of your child calling you, the sound of music etc.
Please share your thoughts on CI confidence, I would love to hear.
Keep your CI confidence shining!
Much love and light,
Photographer: The amazing Shameera Rassool, my friend and work colleague.