Sometimes I feel like I have a dual personality. Part of me is outgoing, talkative and social. The other part of me is quiet, submissive, and introverted.
When I am in small group settings of six or less people, I can be friendly and feel accepted. Especially if I am surrounded by people that I know. Put me into a large gathering, and my personality changes. I become a wallflower, an observer, or even shy.
My hearing loss is a large part of me and a part of my personality. Recently, I attended a large banquet for my son, who was to receive an award as a high school senior. It was held in a large, open ballroom located at a nearby university.
As I scanned the multitude of round tables, people and....more people. It was huge. People were talking with one another and the "noise" was echoing all around me. We were led to our table, with name cards indicating where we would sit.
I immediately switched our name cards around to have my husband and son sit next to me on my right, which is the side I hear much better. To my left, sat one of my son's teachers. Introductions were quickly made with another set of parents and their son at the table with us. Seven people at a round table isn't too bad, is it?
After delving into our salads, my husband quietly touched my arm. I looked at him and then he pointed to the teacher on my left. Apparently, she had tried to talk to me and I didn't respond. I looked at her and she repeated herself. I can't remember what she said, but I believe I answered her question.
I then explained to her that I have a hearing impairment and couldn't hear out of my left side. I told her jokingly that if she said something and I didn't respond, I wasn't trying to ignore her.
I believe that was the last time she initiated any more conversation with me. The other part of my personality emerged....the next two hours were spent looking at my food, eating, and trying to figure out who got what award and what everyone around the table was saying. I would smile, nod, and pretend that I was part of the conversation. There was just too much background noise to figure out what was being said. Though the food was good, I was happy to have the event over with.
The best part of the night? My son was awarded the University of Utah Chemistry Student of the year and an Academic Award for his GPA. This was one of the the moments that I am glad that I was a part of and did not miss.