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What I learned from growing up with a disability

Caitlin Duncan

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When I was seven years old, I failed my hearing test. I was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss and began wearing two hearing aids shortly after. Over the past twelve years of living with this disability, here’s what I’ve learned.

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1.There are genuinely mean people in the world.
I’ve heard it all. I’ve been called every mean name in the book because of my hearing loss. I’ve signed onto Facebook to see people referring to me as “Deaf Girl.” Guys have overlooked me because they don’t want to deal with my disability. I’ve had friends go behind my back and say the meanest things about me. Adults have even told me my dreams aren’t valid because of my disability. I’ve endured all of this because of a disability that I can’t help.

2. The people mentioned above are not worth it.
After dealing with people like that, I’ve learned that they aren’t worth my time. If they are that miserable about their own lives, they sure as hell aren’t worthy of being in mine. People will try to bring others down to make them feel better about themselves; I don’t need that in my life.

3. There are genuinely good people in the world.
As much as I’ve dealt with bad people, I’ve encountered the most amazing people, as well. There are people who are completely willing to accommodate me as much as possible. My best friends are willing to take phone calls for me, put captions on movies, and go out of their way to make sure I’m hearing them okay. Little things like that mean the world to me. The smallest gestures mean the most to me.

4. People don’t want to see others succeed.
Not to brag, but I was an honors student in high school. I graduated with a rank of 33 out of a class of nearly 400 students and a GPA of 3.9. Despite my hard work and dedication to success, people always claimed that teachers cut me slack due to my disability. I was into theater in high school, as well. Each time I was casted, people whispered behind my back, saying I didn’t deserve the part because of my disability. People will never be happy for others.

5. I am not an inspiration.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me I’m brave for getting up each day and living life. While it’s a very kind statement, I am not an inspiration. I live a normal life, just as anyone else does. Getting up each day and living my life doesn’t make me brave; it makes me a 19-year-old college student, who has big dreams and will do anything to achieve them. And this leads me up to the last thing I’ve learned…

6. My disability doesn’t make me any less of a person than someone else.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been treated horribly because of my disability. I’ve been pitied, bullied, ignored and overlooked because of my genetic make up. Somehow, I got stuck with this disability and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I’m not ashamed of it at all. I am still a person, regardless of how much hearing I have. I am a perfectly capable, functioning member of society.
Growing up, I thought my disability meant I was ugly and not worth it, but I’ve finally realized how untrue that is. I am a person, and I am completely worth it, disability or not.

1 Comment

One Response to “What I learned from growing up with a disability”

  1. Brian on November 12th, 2014 6:30 pm

    awesome article- very insightful and well written

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What I learned from growing up with a disability