Vulnerability, Receptiveness, and #gratitude

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(WARNING: Been a bit of an exhausting week, so this is a shorter post.)

Last week, I spoke about how incredible this journey has been this far, but I don't think I'll ever be able to fully explain what a pivotal experience this has all been for me. This past week while I was in New Zealand, I received the most loving and supportive message from one of my best friends back in Georgia. Of course, it put the biggest smile on my face, but it had me thinking how grateful I am for all of the positive receptiveness I've received in this experience, abroad and back stateside.

Many of you know that being vulnerable is not my forte, but that was sort of my challenge to myself this year. And in doing so, I've learned more about myself and those around me. 

When it came to this project, I was really nervous that it was going to be a complete bust. What if I didn't get anything out of it? What if people thought it was a dumb idea? What if I didn't have anything to say? I quickly realized I needed to do this project wholly for myself, regardless of the outcome, as I knew it would be a healing and coming into myself sort of thing if you will ;)

And while I'm not reaching the masses (yet), the feedback I've received thus far has been unexplainable, in the best way! Friends, family, and people I don't know have reached out with words of support and encouragement. 

After my visit to the Deaf Development Program in Cambodia, SpeakSee, a company that creates electronics that aim to assist the hearing loss community in conversation, reached out to ask if they could feature my blog post on their own social media accounts and websites.

Not much longer after, a deaf anthropologist working with MobileDeaf, a ERC-funded project related to deaf mobilities, reached out to interview me for her research as she is focusing specifically on deaf/hoh travelers. She was in Bali and even came to the area I was staying in to connect with me! It's usually the other way around!

And most recently, hearinglikeme.com, a website for the hearing loss community, contacted me about writing for their site, telling my stories of travel and lifestyle. (Pretty stoked about this one!)

As I mentioned last week, the support I have from this group of travelers that I am with is incredible and unparalleled to anything I've ever experienced. Back home, I have friends reaching out with words of positivity and love. Many saying they feel like they're getting to know me all over again or learning more and more about me. The best surprise is hearing from people I haven't heard from in years and really feeling their words were genuine! Sure, there are some people I was hoping to hear more from, but everyone has their own lives to deal with. 

The short summary of all of this is that I'm realizing it's okay to be vulnerable, to be an open book. It's okay to be scared, and you'll realize that in being unplugged, the ones who are truly there for you will come to the surface. Those that do not, are not worth it. Kind of a shitty feeling to come to terms with that but also the best feeling, if that's even possible. Freeing is the word I should use. 

My hope is that maybe this will inspire you to be more vocal and truthful to yourself and in turn to those around you!

To those of you who continue to read this week after week, to those of you that have reached out, and to those of you who are here with me in this journey, I cannot thank you enough! If it wasn't for your love and support, I would not be here or care to continue in this exploration of myself and the deaf/hoh communities across the world. I will never be able to explain just how much you mean to me. #grateful #momentofgratitude