Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Something Personal..


When I first started this blog, I always envisioned it as a fashion diary. Somewhere I could share my outfits, my passion for fashion, share my thoughts on the current trends et cetera.

But I took a hiatus (that wasn’t planned, I was going through some personal things in my life) and my blog didn’t get updated until January of this year. I’ve grown since then, and this blog has taken a little change of direction, thanks to being inspired by other like-minded bloggers (blog post coming up soon on that!). It is still a fashion blog, but also a lifestyle blog. I want to share my thoughts, my stories and my experiences.

And so I return to the point of this post..

First of all, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. I’m just like any other girl. Just another human being. I’ve got five fingers on each hand, five toes on each foot, eyes, lips, a nose and ears.

Except my ears don’t work. My ears are broken.

In other words, I’m deaf.

I’ve been deaf ever since I was born. I come from a deaf family – my parents are deaf, I had one set of grandparents who were deaf, and I have two brothers – one hearing, one deaf. The majority of my family are deaf. It’s just in my genes.

We communicate through BSL – British Sign Language. And what a beautiful language it is. We talk through our hands. We talk through our faces. We don’t use our voices.

We live in a silent world. I have never heard the voices of my parents, the whistle of a kettle after it boils, the birds singing, the boom of thunder, the pitter-patter of rain on my window, my cats miaowing.

All those sounds you take for granted.

But I’m okay with it. I’m happy I’m deaf. I have a deaf identity, and I’m proud of it.

Growing up, I went to a deaf school, where there were Teachers for the Deaf (meaning they were qualified to teach deaf children according to their needs) and my classmates were deaf. I had the most amazing childhood, and the most amazing education I could ask for. I was lucky in that aspect, as so many deaf children are neglected in schools. (But that’s a whole other issue.)

Important: many deaf people don't have good English writing or reading skills, and this is due to the fact our brains work differently to that of hearing people. Hearing children grow up hearing things around them, picking up sounds and words, and they develop that in school. Deaf children don't have that - so they learn at a later pace, but we learn sign language far more quickly, therefore we think in sign language. BSL doesn't have a strong grammar structure - when we talk, we often miss out words. 

For example..

Hearing: "what did you do last night?"
"Oh I went to the cinema and saw The Wolf of Wall Street, then went to get ice cream with Jack. It was a pretty good night."

Deaf: "last night what you do?"
"Went cinema, saw Wolf of Wall Street, finish, got ice-cream with Jack. Was good night."

Now, you may think that sounds ridiculously primary school - but it's just the way sign language is. And if you watch some videos on YouTube of British Sign Language, you'll see how beautiful it is - so expressive, so fluid and so vibrant. Deaf people are often classed as actors, because we show such feeling in our conversations.

I then started at a secondary mainstream school when I was eleven – where there is a deaf unit within a hearing school. The majority of our lessons were with a Teacher for the Deaf, and the minority spent with the hearing students, a hearing teacher and a BSL communicator who interpreted the lesson for us.

In a way, going to a mainstream school helped us to learn how to function in the hearing world. Because we weren’t going to live in the deaf school bubble all our lives – we were eventually going to go out into the big, bad world someday.

I passed my GCSEs with flying colours, and went on to start my A-Levels at college. I was the only deaf student in my classes, and I found it such a struggle. I felt so isolated, because I had nobody to talk to. Nobody could sign, and I found it really frustrating. The only person I could talk to was my communicator, but she was a member of staff, and all I wanted was a friend.

After six months of struggling, ditching college, failing my classes and my exams, I took the hard decision to drop out of college. I hated doing it, because education was such an important part of my life – I wanted to achieve and I wanted to go to university.

But I knew my happiness came first. If you aren’t happy somewhere, then it’s going to affect every part of your life until you do something about it.

And so I spent the next six months searching for somewhere to enrol in September. I knew I wanted to do A-Levels, in order to go on to university. Luckily, my old school offered me a place at sixth form. I spent a very happy two years there, and I achieved my dream of going to University in September 2012.

Fast forward one and a half year later, I’m already halfway through my second year of my English Literature degree. I never imagined I’d be here, and I’m so glad to say I did it.

I have the most amazing support team behind me at university – my interpreter, my note-taker (as I can’t watch my interpreter and write notes at the same time) and my tutors, who are all so understanding and so helpful.

I had a work placement at Tatler magazine in January, and it was the first time I stepped into the working world (except that work experience thing everybody had to do at school in year 10/11). It was the first time in a long time that I’d be on my own, without an interpreter, without anybody to help me communicate.

But I survived it. I kept at it, and I lipread everybody to the best of my ability, and when there was a communication breakdown – we simply wrote notes or emailed each other. That really opened my eyes to how I could grow in the magazine industry – it’s all about determination, motivation and pushing yourself out there.

Truth be told, I’m lucky.

I’m lucky because I have a supportive family, who understands my dreams and my ambitions.

I’m lucky because I have brilliant friends who constantly encourage me to get out of my comfort zone and chase after the things I want.

I’m lucky because even though this blog is small, I’ve already met some lovely people who inspire me and make me strive to be as super cool and awesome as them.

Thank you for reading this post, and I really would love to hear your thoughts. This has been a really personal and difficult decision to write about my deafness, because I don’t know how people will react.

So do leave a comment, and if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing that part of you, it's ridiculous how much I learnt just by reading this post! I'm loving your blog :)

    http://carolineschapter.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Aw thank you for taking the time to read! Really appreciate it :) x

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