It was my last year of high school, when I was referred to an audiologist by a school nurse. At the time, I was celebrating my acceptance to UCLA, ready to take the first steps in preparing for a prestigious career in international affairs. After all, i had everything it takes: top grades, strong interpersonal skills, languages. I remember being annoyed for having to go through an annoying audiology test, raising my hand to bips and repeating some word. When I got out, the doctor sat me down to talk. He asked me what I was planning on doing for a living. I proudly told him about my plans. With a smirk on his face he told me to forget about my bright future and figure out a more realistic line of work, where i wouldn’t have much interface with people. Then he carelessly told the audiologist to show me the options for hearing aids and wished me luck.
I left his office in a blur, crying, in disbelief of what I had heard and swore to prove this jerk wrong. I didn’t need any aids!!
So I went on to college, graduated summa cum laude, got an MA from the top International Relations school in the US and landed a coveted job at the World Bank immediately after graduation, never once putting on a hearing aid. I was on top of success, engaged in a very active social lifestyle, not wanting to admit to myself that I was having more and more difficulties hearing. I’d miss important points during lectures and meetings, would insert comments that didn’t fit into the group conversations, misunderstood what was being said. I assured myself that my problem was minor and maybe i was just losing my sharpness and intelligence. After all, I was surrounded by some of the top professionals in the world.
So I carried on.
When I moved to Brazil, met Rique, my now husband, and found our that his mom was an audiologist, I got very uncomfortable. All of a sudden, my deficiency resurfaced. With the ease, with which Brazilians talk just about anything, this topic became a matter of fact. Rique finally talked me into trying one earpiece out, but I did so with much hesitation, using it sporadicly and very discretely. No one could find out!
Six years of comforting and easy-going conversations later, Esther, my mother-in-law, was finally able to help me find a new way of looking at my condition: embracing and taking care of it. With her gentle care, I started seeing aids as a tool for improving and strengthening my hearing, not as a sign of failure.
Today, for the first time in almost two decades, I accepted and embraced me hearing loss. I share it with all of you as a proof of this milestone and as a reminder of the importance of accepting our weaknesses and imperfections. We often push our limitations and deficiencies away, rejecting them, hiding them somewhere deep inside, far away from everyone, far from ourselves. We then create and put forth a picture perfect but empty facet of ourselves for other to approve, rather than chasing our real dreams. We hide behind our deficiencies and never allow them be an integral part of our unique selves. But sooner then later they´ll come haunting us down, unless we give them space and room to be… As my talented sister-in-law, Aline Lessa, wrote in her song, ‘every pain needs to be nurtured to grow, age and rest in piece.
Yoga philosophy teaches of non-possessiveness. What few people understand is that the idea is not to reject our urge to possess, run away from it, or imitate Buddha, but to accept our possessive nature and thoughts associated with it, and go even deeper to capture and understand the root of it. Only then will the urge vanish and go away.
What’s an imperfection you’re hiding behind?