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Bound by the limits of my hearing impairment, it took me three years to realize the clocks at school actually make a noise. As Mrs. Neilson lectures, pressured by the deadline of the AP test, she leaves little room for pauses. Intrigued by every word, I want to take the time to process and analyze, but I must keep going so as not to miss the next point. The movements of my hand have reached a level of unconsciousness as I attempt to record the oration verbatim, though it is impossible when simultaneously forced to visually trace the lip movements of the teacher. The bell rings and I am released from my intense concentration. The remainder of the day brings similar situations.
Fact: My school day is mentally twice as long, due to devoting all my energy towards listening, processing what I hear, retrieving missed information, learning, and then completing my assignments. More often than not my toils are concealed, as I have become exceptionally skilled in compensating for my hearing loss. Up until this point in my life, I have maintained a mindset that having a hearing disability was irrelevant; I was equal to those around me.
Fact: I am different. As I approach the end of my high school journey, I now realize I am not like my classmates and friends. I do not stand out because I have small technological devices in my ears, but because my hearing impairment has given me a rare chance to experience many of life’s challenges with a unique perspective. My passion for photography allows me to explore my strengths in visual acuteness, which is enhanced through the partial loss of one sense, my hearing. Each image I capture conveys the impact my disability has on my way of thinking, and how I approach various problems and aspects of design.
Fact: My heightened spatial awareness positively impacts my athletic abilities, particularly tennis. My understanding in court positioning and connection to each stroke is the result of a lifetime spent familiarizing myself with non-verbal senses. The mental game, in combination with inhuman physical demands, may ultimately foreshadow a defeat, however, I do not falter, as I am conditioned by comparatively greater hurdles in living with a hearing impairment.
My boundless ambitions stem from having learned that I am capable of overcoming even the most adverse situations. I am exceptionally hard-working, self-driven, and motivated; all founded upon my refusal to let any disability compromise my potential. Competitive with myself, I refuse to settle for the highest of society’s standards, dedicating myself to redefining individual excellence with an equally positive influence on those around me. If someday I am given the chance to correct my hearing, I will embrace that opportunity, knowing the lessons I learned and everything I have accomplished will never be lost.
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