I’m just a boring old fart with nothing interesting to say.
That thought reverberated through my head as I sat sipping my pint of beer, smiling weakly, at the hubbub of conversations washed over me.
Only snatching every third word of every sentence, I tried in vain to adjust my hearing aid to get further involved in the conversations to battle against either the echoness of loud words or the background noise/music that threatened to overwhelm the environment around me.
What? What had just been said?
Looking around me, I could see that everyone else was united in spirit at the joke just said.
I had missed it.
What to do?
I took the easy way out and laughed along, afraid to be THAT guy who may have looked a loser, enquiring what was the joke about only to see the tumbleweed go idly by while someone else explained. Once I got it, I would laugh but only for people to look awkwardly away, my laughter ringing hollow into the room.
I didn’t get it, and the joke would be discussed for days to come, how it came about and why it was meaningful to the group I was with. I would continue to be none the wiser.
But you know, I still wouldn’t feel part of the group. If anything, I would feel so detached and most likely alone in a crowded room.
I’m not one to let anything get me down, and you know, I would always aspire to educate and inform people to be more understanding of my deafness and that just sometimes, I will never always get it right.
But in the last couple of months, I’ve been struggling and it has gotten worse and worse in the last few weeks.
I feel out of touch. I feel excluded. I feel just simply not part of anything. I feel defeated.
And what’s more concerning to me – I feel negative.
The last few months, I’ve been involved in many groups – whether at work, home and social life. It’s a pretty hectic and full life – a place where I enjoy thriving – but it hasn’t been the same. I’ve tried to put to put my finger on it.
Could it be my degenerative hearing loss? Especially that I’ve noticed in the last few months my hearing in my left ear has gone rapidly downhill and that no more support would be offered seeing as I had the best hearing aid around on the National Health Service?
Could it be the strong personalities often talking over each other in the groups thus stopping me following clearly one line of conversation? After all, should anyone starts talking, I usually focus on what they have to say only to be interrupted by someone else talking – to which by the time I turn my head and focus on them to hear clearly what they have to say, someone else had start speaking somewhere else. I’ve lost the conversation.
Could it be that whenever I start talking to contribute the conversation, people has already discounted my presence and don’t hear what witty remark I have to say?
Perhaps it’s altogether combined.
i just don’t feel like I’m included in things, and I’m struggling.
More concerning to me, I’m not doing anything about it. I’m detaching myself, becoming aloof and only smiling when warranted, despite not knowing what the conversation is actually about.
It’s coming across in person that I must be a boring old fart with nothing interesting to talk about.
In fact, i’m actually screaming at myself inside, tired at simply trying to follow the conversation.
I endeavour to talk to people one on one in a group, but usually abandoned on the other person getting involved in the group conversation I’ve just missed out on.
Now… I just don’t bother particularly after numerous times enquiring to individual people what has just been said..
‘It doesn’t matter’ or ‘You just had to be there’
That’s usually the response.
I’m often struck by the quote Helen Keller, a 20th century champion of the deaf and blind has said:
“Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people,”
I know I am super proud of the things that I’ve achieved in my lifetime of deafness. I’ve travelled the world solo, I’ve gone to University and got good grades, I’ve done things that people wouldn’t dare dream of.
But my biggest challenge has always been getting connections with people. Particularly in a group setting. It’s not to say that I don’t have deep friendships with people across the UK. I do and I absolutely love them.
But in the here and now, some people just think I am that boring old fart with nothing interesting to say. I see them avoiding me when they think I don’t see them. (Their loss, by the way). They can spend all night without talking to me even though I try to make an effort to talk to them. (Again. their loss.) They may glance at my hearing aids/Cochlear implant and think I’m not worth it. (Totally, their loss.)
But I’m struggling.
For that connection.
Just stop thinking I’m that boring old fart with nothing to say. Just be patient and you’ll soon see that I’m that witty, educated and intelligent guy with everything to say.
Sure, I may not have heard about the latest pop culture or the latest fad. But, just know, that you will always have a friend in me.
To find out more about you can be deaf aware in conversations, how about reading through these communication tips?