Confidence is like a muscle – when you first start stretching it’s difficult, but it slowly gets easier the more you warm up. Commit to doing just one small activity every day that you would otherwise avoid. Maybe it’s ordering a coffee at a café or politely telling a friend something you’d normally feel too shy to bring up. Exercising confidence little-by-little over time creates a habit, and you’ll soon find that it’s helped to shift your mindset.
Knowledge is power
When you’re surrounded by other people that don’t have a hearing loss, it can often make you feel very alone. Immersing yourself in the community and culture of others with hearing loss can be a great help. Read stories, watch videos, swap tips and find some common ground, whether it’s online or in person. Internet support groups can give you some insight into other’s lives and help you to build confidence when it comes to making friends or meeting new people.
Think of something that you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to. Dance lessons? Public speaking? Now’s the time to do it. No matter what you think you can and can’t do, sometimes it’s just a case of jumping in head first and giving it a go. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll grow and how capable you are when you step out of your comfort zone and explore new things.
When you have a hearing loss, it can be easy to feel like you should fade into the background. A fear of being treated differently can get in the way of saying what you want to. But you should never be too nervous to speak up about things that are impacting you. If you have trouble understanding in the classroom, find a quiet time after class to talk to your teacher. If you want to sit in a quieter area during lunch so you can hear your friends better, suggest it to a close friend or simply pick up your things and suggest a change of scenery one lunch time. Being open will make others more comfortable to ask questions and better understand your needs as someone with a hearing loss.
Look for heroes
In 2012, Marvel Comics created the hero Blue Ear, after four-year-old Anthony Smith said he didn’t want to wear his hearing aid because “superheroes don’t wear them”. While superheroes might not be your jam, you can still seek out your own personal hero. There are a ton of active voices in the community bringing a positive face to hearing loss:
- Nyle DiMarco - You might know him as the winner of America’s Next Top Model in 2015, but he’s also an actor and proud Deaf activist. Nyle speaks publicly about obstacles he’s dealt with and a lack of accessibility and awareness in the modelling industry. In 2016, he started the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, which aims to increase accessibility for people living with hearing loss and encourage them to follow their dreams.
- Rikki Poynter - Rikki is a lifestyle YouTuber and online activist. She started out as a beauty blogger but traded her eyeliner for a microphone and began doing talks and workshops across the US on video and audio captioning. Her campaign “no more Craptions” encourages companies and creators who use online video to be more open to captioning content, and stop relying on auto-captioning systems which can be inaccurate and frustrating to use.
- Ben Cohen - Former rugby union player for England and an active member of the hearing loss community, Ben aims to make sport more accessible to younger players who deal with hearing loss. He retired from rugby in 2011 to work on the StandUp Foundation which aims to combat bullying and create confidence and end discrimination.
Confidence is a journey
At the end of the day confidence isn’t static. You don’t just get it one day and then you’re set for life. There will always be times when you feel a little shy or low. It’s about finding strategies to help you bounce back when times get tough. Remember that it’s a journey. There will be ups and downs, but the key is to never stop trying. Confidence is hard work but its work that pays off.
If you’d like more information about resources to help you through your high school years, we’re always happy to chat. Contact us today.