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tell people that I’m shy all the time, but they usually just scoff at me. I’m incredibly friendly if someone wants to chat with me first, and I have no problem at all getting up in front of an audience, but put me in a situation where I have to make the first move and I freeze up completely. I feel bashful and embarrassed, and anything I can thing of to say to someone sounds trite and unnecessary. I have recently realized that this gets worse when I’m communicating in a language I don’t know very well. In my limited conversations with Deaf people I feel like all my training in class and my hard work to learn the vocabulary was for naught. I get flummoxed and I can’t remember anything. So far, I’ve been to the cheater kind of Deaf Events in my community. You know the ones… where you can sit and watch the entertainment and don’t have to communicate one-on-one with anyone. It makes me wish I had a support group of some kind.
I’m in a weird place in college. I go to a Community College where the students are either all 18 year old kids, or adults of 40-ish going back to school. I’m in the middle, neither here nor there. While I’m friendly with my classmates, I haven’t made any friends that could back me up at a Deaf Event. Provide moral support. None of my good friends know ASL, and my husband gives me that pained look when I ask him to go to Deaf Coffee Night at Starbucks. Not only does he hate Starbucks, but he’d be completely in the dark about what was going on around him. I get it, it’s not his idea of a fun time. And who can blame him, really?
I wish I had the guts to go on my own, but I don’t. I have no idea what it is I’m afraid of, but I certainly don’t feel up to it right now. I keep telling myself that I’ll feel more confident when I’m a little better at ASL, but sometimes I think that’s just a nice story I tell myself to make me feel better about loving a community I only passively participate in. Someday I’ll bite the bullet and just go. Even if I order a coffee and leave, I’ve gotten one step closer. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this whole process, it’s that baby steps are still steps forward.
didn’t mean to fall in love with American Sign Language. I promise. I was a silly college girl, absorbed in my world of costuming, and suddenly the class that fulfilled my general ed language requirement was my favorite class. It was fun and funny, and suddenly my whole being ached for fluency. I signed up for ASL 2, even though it didn’t count toward anything, and I love it just as much as I loved the first semester. Now, I’m thinking seriously about being an interpreter some day. I know I have a long way to go before I get good enough for that, but I’m excited to try for it anyway.
The language is great, but it’s a whole package deal, really. I had no idea that there was a whole Deaf Culture out there existing side by side with my Hearing Culture. The discovery has been amazing. I know that I’m an ignorant little hearing girl, but I’d really love to share what I’m learning as I learn it. I find it fascinating, and I think you will too.
So here it is… Not just my journey to fluency, but the amazing things I’ve learned about Deaf Culture along the way. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.