How My Hearing Loss is Helping Me Adapt to Life Abroad
I've been in Cambodia just over a week now. It hasn't exactly been the smooth transition into this new travel/work lifestyle I was hoping it would be. I've been battling a sickness off and on, stuffy nose, scratchy throat and a stomach that has spent more time gurgling than not. My luggage got lost on the way here last week, but don't worry, after many phone calls and pacing in the heat and humidity, it finally arrived! Also, jet lag is REAL! After our devastating loss in the National Championship, I came back to the apartment for a nap. That nap turned in to a six hour sleep, followed by a quick snack and back to sleep for another five hours. Sleeping through the night is still a struggle. The dust, pollution, and lack of road rules have been quite the adjustments, but somehow through all of this, I've managed to be fairly calm.
For a long time, I resented my hearing loss. Why did I have to be so different? I had no control over it, so I controlled everything else that I possibly could. News flash! We have no control over ANYTHING! Once I learned to really accept this fact, things became so much easier, so when I look back on this week of unfortunate events, I remind myself that it's out of my control. It's easier to be relaxed than it is to be stressed.
There have been moments where I'm out and about, and I'll find myself jumping to conclusions before even really observing the situation. I find myself having to reel my thoughts in. Long ago, I promised myself that I would not make assumptions about anyone or anything because I have always hated the looks I would get from others when I didn't understand something that was said or when my hearing aids were exposed. Like they don't know me, how dare they judge me! And now I'm sticking my own foot in my mouth, dammit. But that's the thing about traveling and what I'm excited about over the next year - this reminder that I am in no place to make accusations. What is perceived one way in my culture is perceived completely differently in another. It's easy to be narrow-minded when we've only seen something done one way our entire life, but like how there's two sides to every story, there's always another way to look at something.
I feel so cliche saying this, but thanks in part to my hearing loss and other events in my life, I leave you with these basic mantras: