Joseph Fletcher

My own personal life experience tells me that we’re all stuck on a spinning self-worth carousel; wanting perfection, acceptance and instant gratification at only a moment’s notice. Our worth has become devalued by our own self destruction, our train of thoughts, and our continual comparison to each other.

For a long time in my twenties, I was convinced that the reason I’m single and unlucky in love was because of my hearing impairment. I had this belief raging loudly and so implanted into my head that guys saw my hearing aids as baggage. They’d be afraid to ask questions and quickly dismiss me because I didn’t fit the ‘perfect’ criteria they seemingly desired; their picture-perfect textbook boyfriend I seemingly wasn’t.

We’ve all been rejected in one form or another, and what is dating without rejection? Being rejected is all part of our learning experience and should be embraced. However, when a guy you’ve only just met at your dinner table announces within the first few minutes of conversation that it wasn’t going to work due to my “baggage”, gets up and leaves, you can’t help but wonder if it’s you.

While this paints a negative impression of him – and you could argue that I maybe should have told him before we agreed to meet that I come with hearing aids – what difference does it make? I don’t see my disability as an issue with what I’m able to bring to the table, so why should it be of issue to so many others? My point is, episodes like this happen way more often than they should, right across the board, between able and enable. Why are we so quick to shoot one another down? Why are we all so impatient with giving people a chance?

Joseph Fletcher

I’ve learned to be more comfortable within my skin. I’ve learnt to let go of my insecurities of what other people might think. We’re almost all disabled in one form or another. We all have those small or large things that make us different. Are we seriously living in a world where being all the same is what we desire? I’ve learned to let go of expectations and what is to be expected. Not everyone is going to have a hearing aid fetish. I enjoy being deaf, the luxury of switching off is a wondrous blessing only a few of us will understand. I come with a ton of deaf jokes, I’m an excellent listener – pun intended – and to all those who snore and don’t want nagging about it, I didn’t hear you.

Perhaps I should consider myself lucky that I’m not having to conform to certain archetypes of the gay doctrine through vocal communication from others, and for which this may allow me to be set free to live my own life exactly how I am and how I like. I can’t change what I used to see as a discredit, a flaw, and it has only taken the people I’ve met along the way for me to fully appreciate the value of my own self worth, and in what makes me proud to be me and in what I, myself, define as a success.

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We should all give credit to the differences that separate us, and find that happier place where we can embrace each other with a little more possibility, in breaking down barriers, and stigma — respecting each other with a little more compassion and bravely, more humanity. Politically, the world is getting louder, and voices are finally being heard and with that capacity, comes the results of blurring the lines.

It’s about time we banded together, to stand up for difference, to understand and learn, and most importantly to celebrate that nobody is perfect. We’re all disabled, so be proud of what makes you and your story unique.

Words Joseph Fletcher