Some of the topics that have been discussed here on this site are around mental health, concentration fatigue and deaf anxiety.
These are also the posts that have been getting a lot of attention lately, especially the latter.
But you also need to look after yourself, and this is why in this podcast, I talk about the importance of being selfish just so you can look after yourself.
Because if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after other people.
What do I mean by that? Well you can check out the podcast below…
…or read the transcripts below instead.
Announcer: This is the Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast, a place to hear stories from the deaf and hard of hearing people and from your host, Ahmed Khalifa.
A few of my posts have been recently getting a lot of attention. For the sake of this podcast, I’m mainly talking about those that are related to mental health, concentration fatigue and in particular the one about deaf anxiety as well.
They all overlap with each other but at the same time they are all individual and unique in their own way as well.
But regardless of that, the responses from the posts have been overwhelming. The comments have been amazing. I’ve been getting messages from all over the world across different platforms and it’s great to see so many people resonate with it.
I’m flattered that they come to me to ask for advice and I’m very thankful and obviously I want to thank you if you have been one of those who have been reading or watching my videos or reading a podcast, transcript or anything like that.
I appreciate it. 😊
And also, I appreciate it for those who have been leaving comments as well and they’re contacting me. It’s always great to hear from you. And that’s the one thing that I wanted to touch upon because it’s been very overwhelming and it’s amazing at the same time.
But of course I wanted to help as many people as possible, but it wasn’t possible. And over time I realised that the only way you can help other people is first of all, you have to look after yourself.
You can’t look after other people if you don’t look after yourself.
And this brings me up to my next point where a lot of the comments I’ve been receiving are about the challenges that a lot of people are having when they go into a social events and meetings like minded people and feeling comfortable in certain environment.
And it all stands down to not be able to communicate with people, not able to hear and that causes a bit of anxiety.
And that was one of the posts that really kind of touched upon a lot of people. And of course people approached me and told me about it.
And it’s amazing to hear their stories and experiences and it’s really insightful as well to learn from you as well. It’s great to hear that. But, I wish I can help everyone but I can’t.
I’m going to share some general tips and advice on what you could do as well to help particularly over these challenges and to overcome the barriers and get through the challenges that you’re facing on a daily basis and hopefully it will help you in the longterm as well.
Unfortunately, not everyone will care
The thing is, even before we get into that, unfortunately it’s not possible to have it perfect and we can’t have everything that we want and that applied to a lot of people.
I’m not just talking about those who are deaf. I’m talking about everyone because you are going to experience people who are ignorant or lazy or just don’t care about your struggle, your needs, your barriers and you’re going to have to accept that, unfortunately.
But thankfully by accepting it mean that you can shut them out. You can get rid of the toxic environment that you are surrounded with and focus on those who can help you.
Because there are people out there who will care.
The importance of asking
And this is the thing I want to start talking about is that in the right environment, if you do feel that you are comfortable to talk about it, you can speak up about it. You can speak up to people about your needs.
So for example, if you’re going to a conference or some kind of work related events, ask about how they are meeting your needs.
Whether if it’s the event organisers or whether it’s at your event and you ask the HR team, ask. And I made the mistake of not asking before in the past, I wish I did. But ask and see what there is available and what they have to offer.
And also they might not know that you require it until you ask. Same thing as well if you’re planning to go out for a social event or you’re going out for a meal at a restaurant or a cafe with your close friends and families. Ask again, maybe you can speak up about your preferences.
Maybe you prefer to go to certain places where it’s a bit quieter and easier to communicate with your friends.
This is the thing because if you don’t ask, you don’t get. You know that old saying, so you’ll have to do that.
But I can appreciate as well that it’s not always easy to do that because it does depend on the environment you are in or on the people around you, if it is easy to speak about it. Because I can totally appreciate that, even from my own experience, that in a lot of situation it’s not easy to speak up about it.
Even sometimes in my own close circle of friends and family, in certain situation, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it and just do it.
But then other times I did feel comfortable, so kind of try to work out when is the best time to ask and speak up about it and just to make sure that you can get what you need.
It’s not about you being needy, it’s about something that you need to get over the basic things that we want, which is to socialise, to interact, to communicate. That’s all the things that we want to do.
Accepting what you can’t change
At the same time though, this is something that a lot of people will have difficulty of doing. But we may also have to accept that we can’t have all what we require.
And again, this can be for various reasons. It can be for the same reasons I said earlier about the people that just don’t care or because it’s not possible or because of funding or whatever the reason.
And in those situations we may have to accept the situation by, for example in this case when it’s about going to a social event, maybe you don’t go or if you do go you want to try it out and just leave early.
So whether you don’t go or you just leave early, I’m guilty of both of them on many, many occasions and it’s something that I have to accept and do because it’s not possible to have everything the way you like.
And it’s unfortunate, but it’s true. And the annoying thing that I do get a bit of FOMO. I do get a bit of fear of missing out because you want to be part of the experience, especially if you’re going to a social event.
But at the same time I have to look after myself first and it’s the same thing with you. You have to look after yourself first because if you put yourself under a lot of pressure and strain to go through that, are you really going to do yourself any service by doing that, putting yourself through that and is it going to help other people as well?
It’s difficult. I know that it’s not easy to just not go or just to skip it and just stay home. But sometime you might want to look at the situation and work out what is the best decision to do.
The one thing i always say that the main thing that you should think about is yourself because being selfish, to some extent, is important because like I said, you can’t look after others if you don’t look after yourself and the same thing with what I’m trying to do am trying to interact with a lot of people, but I can’t deal with every single person because it’s just not feasible.
I’m only one person, but at the same time I have to look after myself so that I can help you. It’s very, very important that I do that.
Being part of a community
The other thing that I would suggest though is to possibly find local groups that you can join, whether they’re deaf related or not.
Maybe you can find and join a local community of people who are having the same interests as you.
So for example, I like to use platforms like Meetup.com and depending on where you are in the world, maybe you Craigslist or maybe Gumtree.com as well. They may have a section about a certain group of community inviting new members to be part of their community.
If, for example, let’s just say you have an interest in a specific type of hobby like cooking and you want to join and be part of local foodies and local group of people who are passionate about food and cooking and all these things.
Then you can go to platforms like Meetup.com and find out in your area if there’s any.
Because that might be an option for you to be able to be in the right environment, be around people who are like minded and easy to engage with them about a topic that you’re passionate about. That might be an option for you.
Now I can appreciate that for some people that might be very challenging, especially if it’s a big group because of the usual story about the noise level, if you’re going to annoy the environment, you can’t communicate with people.
It depends. I mean it depends on the topic, it depends on where are they meeting?
Is it a small group or a big group?
Are they able to cater and be inclusive as possible?
You never know. You just have to research online and look for that information and see what you can find because we can’t always assume that you go to these communities and groups of people and immediately we say, “Oh no, it’s not going to work”. We just have to see what information available, try it out and give it a shot.
Start your own group
But let’s just say if you can’t find anything, whether it’s because of lack of availability or not inclusive for you. Well, maybe the other option is then for you to start your own group.
You check it out for yourself. Is there any need for it in your area? Because maybe that is something that you can do yourself to start it slowly build it up and it’s not about having as many people as possible.
It could be just about having a nice group of people that you connect with. You all talk about the same topic or even more you get along, you integrate, all the things like that.
That might be something that you might want to consider instead of leaving it to other people. Why don’t you think about starting your own group as well.
And then speaking of being part of community, you may want to also think about integrating yourself with the local Deaf community and that might mean learning sign language if you don’t speak sign language. Again it’s not going to be that straight forward.
I know it’s not easy for people to learn languages and it depends on your circumstances. You may have grown up in mainstream and you’ve just adapted to the hearing world and it’s a bit tricky for you.
I get that and you know you might not want to learn sign language then that’s another story. Maybe you want to integrate in a different way.
Whatever it is, I get it. It’s not as straightforward as just be part of a local Deaf community. Because even some of my recent points I’ve been getting comments about people arguing that you should learn sign language.
You’ll get over your anxiety, you will be able to expose yourself to amazing culture, amazing people and you’ll feel less anxious about being part of social environment.
On the one hand I get it. You will be able to be part of a group that are just like you in a certain way. But on the other hand, it’s not that straight forward because it depends on the circumstances, your life experiences, how you’ve grown up, all these things, where you are.
It just depends on a lot of circumstances so I can appreciate that. By saying join the local Deaf community and learn sign language,
it’s not that straight forward. But it could be something that you might want to consider. Maybe you want to learn sign language.
This something that I have taken an interest in doing, which is learning sign language, for my own personal reasons, learning project sign language and it’s something that I want to do.
But I’m not saying that you must learn your local sign language, whatever that may be. It just something that you might want to consider if you want to be part of a different community or you want to get comfortable with your own identity, whatever it is, everyone has their own reason. You shouldn’t be forced into it.
Be comfortable with what you want to do
It should be something that you are comfortable with doing. Of course you need to be open minded about it, you need to be open about the possibility that it could work out well or it could not work out well, but don’t let that deter you because then you can try it again elsewhere.
Be open minded is what I’m trying to say. Keep an open mind so it’s something that you can consider that allows you to meet more people in your shoes and then you just never know where that may take you.
And you may be able to actually realise that, you know what, I’d rather be part of the deaf community and that’s it.
And if that works for you, then great. Yeah, absolutely nothing wrong with that. As well as that there are the usual things that you need to do to look after yourself.
Everything from making sure that you exercise regularly, you eat well, you sleep well, you drink well. You can do hobbies like reading books or take up another hobby like knitting, drawing and painting.
These are also important. They are all things that you should take into consideration. You might also think about being around people who are more positive and make it easier for you and that will also help you in a long term.
There are so many of these thing that are kind of obvious. I don’t want to repeat myself because I’m sure you are aware of the things like that, but I hope some of the points will help you.
Maybe you can try out yourself and see how it goes. Because we all go through certain challenges in life that would affect us, whether mentally or physically, but in this case I’m talking about the mental challenges that you face and we all go through I go through it.
But it’s about finding out what works for you. What is the best way for you to get over it, to go through it, to accept it and to move forward with your life. Because if you don’t do that, then you’ll hold yourself back of what you have to offer to the world because you have something to offer to the world.
I always believe every single person has something to offer to the world. It doesn’t have to be something life changing to, you know, change the whole world perspective about something. It could be something as small as you have an impact to another person’s life.
That is an impact!
It doesn’t matter how big or small it is, it’s just that you can do that. But it just about being open minded, trying to think things and look after yourself and being selfish. That’s important as well in a certain way.
Don’t play loosely, don’t twist it in a certain way. I’m just saying you have to look after yourself so that you’re able to look after other people and be with other people and be the best version of yourself possible.
So I hope that helps. I hope you got something out of it. I would love to know what you think.
Let me know in a comment. Let me know in the shown up and I would love to know what you think because I think it’s an important topic about looking after yourself.
We all need that regardless of whether you are deaf or not, it could be anybody. You just have to look after yourself. I hope I helped you.
I would really, really appreciate it If you can also leave a review on Apple Podcast, let me know what you think about the podcast and also don’t forget I’ve got loads of other episodes recorded as well. You can check them out as well.
Thank you for listening to me, or for reading the transcript if that’s what you’re doing.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
- What is ‘audism’? Plus my personal experiences of facing audism - October 27, 2021
- ‘CODA’ movie review: my thoughts on the latest deaf movie to be released - October 13, 2021
- Deafness as a ‘hidden/invisible disability’ - October 6, 2021
Wow. It’s so amazing to read this topic, mean a lot to me and considering it like, stands your ground or believe in yourself a bit. I have a negative husband who always treat me like I didn’t belong to the earth, I am worthless , so on, call me names, deaf or anything that Cross his mind. I don’t let that define who I am. I’m strong inside out and could do anything I want in life. Thank you so much for your amazing topic again.
Ahmed Khalifa says
Thanks for commenting Josephine, and what a powerful statement you are making about yourself. Always look after yourself.
Talking about social events, work related ones, I am the only Deaf person in my district. I speak and sign. I act hearing so well.
Anyway, I declined to go to an All in Day for staff to celebrate our work and what we have achieved during the year. My team leader wanted to know why, and I quote you my reply:
“Sign Language interpreters are not the panacea that everyone thinks they are.They don’t always work for me. In conferences, training or group gatherings [especially large ones], thinking in two languages and trying to focus and concentrate on what is being said, are two issues. I can still miss important information, or come away none the wiser/ better for having participated.
As you know, I’m always missing things here at work. Not just professionally but also socially. Maintaining communication, for me, is stressful and frustrating. People don’t see this, because I am good at covering up [humour covers a multitude of sins]. Because I speak and communicate so well, that lulls many people into thinking I have no issues “hearing”. I don’t always ask people to repeat stuff cos it gets so hard. Different accents, different voice levels etc…. so I let things slide a lot.”
I’ve had talks with him since, and I’ve been quite blunt. Why should I participate in one event they try to make accessible, when the rest of the time it’s a struggle? Why should I work harder to participate, when I know the same effort is not afforded to me?
My points to him were to make him actually think about the structural bias of a hearing organisation and a hearing workplace. Of course we are working on some solutions, and of course nothing will be perfect, and I accept that to a point. But the irony of workplace policies that espouse inclusion, when they don’t really understand what ti actually means, or having technology like TEXTING via skype and conduct phone in meetings using voice. But they never fail to email to tell us that vocie call is cancelled.
And on it goes….
Ahmed Khalifa says
Very interesting Tony. I can definitely resonate with what you are saying. When I used to be quiet about my deafness in the past and as an expert at pretending to be hearing, I got criticised in the past for not attending certain work events. Because of the general attitude and various workplaces, it was not possible for me to open up because the hearing biasm is clear. So for me to write the equivalent of what you said was not option for me. I guess I got scared about losing my job or affecting my relationships with my colleagues.
I’m hoping by being more open, it will educate people more. But we’ve got such a long way to go until hearing people understands what we go through.
Nowadays, I don’t regret not attending events. My priority is my health first.
I appreciate you sharing your story Tony. Thank you! 🙏🏾