Hi I’m Bec, I’m 26 years old and I am the Western Sydney Coordinator for Hear For You.
As teenager I found it really hard to keep up with everything my friends were saying and was constantly asking them to repeat what they said. Often they would just say “Never mind” or “Don’t worry” and that always made me feel really left out and that they couldn’t be bothered to include me.
A turning point for me was when we had a school excursion and it was so loud and busy I couldn’t keep up with anything. I felt completely disconnected and isolated from my friends but didn’t see the point in saying pardon because I knew they wouldn’t repeat themselves for me.
So that’s when I decided that I needed to tell them how it made me feel when they said “never mind”. The next day at school I had a conversation with one of my friends from the group and explained how much I hated it. He told me that often when he said “never mind” it was because it wasn’t something important and he didn’t think I really cared about what he had to say. We came to a compromise, that he could have a pass for things he had stuttered or didn’t mean to say, but otherwise he would start repeating things more often.
My reality is that hearing people don’t have much experience with or understand hearing loss. I’m passionate about advocating for teenagers with hearing loss so that they might navigate teenage years more smoothly than I did.
The main challenges with my deafness have been:
- Feeling isolated in a group – sometimes it has felt more isolating being around people than being on my own
- Listening fatigue and exhaustion from concentrating so hard to hear – I have so many naps!
- Adapting as my hearing has changed and worsened – I am always learning new coping skills and strategies to help my hearing, but when it suddenly changes it can be really challenging to manage
But that hasn’t stopped me from achieving some pretty cool goals! So far in life, I have:
- Been interviewed live on Triple J and appeared on You Can’t Ask That
- Moved out of home at 21
- Learnt how to yodel (just kidding, I am a terrible singer!).
I really became aware of myself and life changed for the better when I was about 18 years old. I stopped apologising for my hearing loss and felt more self assured in who I was. When I was 25 I started sharing my story with my Facebook friends, detailing challenges with my hearing and how it affects me. Not everyone gets it but now so many of my friends are more understanding and say “never mind” much less often!
I’ve been told I’m inspirational but to me, I’m just me. I’ve adapted to my world and I’m happy. The world is made up of different kinds of people. I ask hearing people to recognise that deafness and hearing loss is a challenge but not an obstacle we can’t get past.