People seem unaware of what being mute entails, I guess that’s because in a world where the majority of people can speak it’s not something most can really emphasise with, understandably so, but still raising awareness seems to be the least I can do.
When I was younger it was very upsetting and very frustrating, my youth was spent constantly angry and upset that I couldn’t voice my opinion or what i felt, the way I could describe it would be almost like being trapped in your own mind, unless you’ve got some sort of way to communicate via written word it was very difficult to get across to people what I wanted to say or felt to them.
I started off just carrying a notepad, but even then it had its own set of problems, if i ran out of paper, or the pens ran out or broke for whatever reason I was effectively stuck unable to communicate, as a young child I remember wanting to shout and speak with all the fervour of youth, an option which again and again was denied me and that crushed me on a day to day basis, I felt broken, defective, useless and out of place in the world.
Quiet people have the loudest minds
As I got older, I realised it didn’t have to be something which defined me, the quote above by Stephen Hawking is very true, I cant speak, no. But my mind is always writhing with new thoughts, theories and ideas. It almost seems as if my brain is trying to compensate for the lack of expression. In time I came to accept my muteness and see it as a strange sort of strength, it allows one a certain introspective and thoughtful approach, and with time you can easily learn to keep up with conversations, even animated ones if you really are fast writing. In the end i ditched the notepad and started carrying a flexible magnetic whiteboard, easier to store, less paper and easier to write on, the improved flexibility means I can now keep up with conversation, and with the dawn of things like smartphones, I can even communicate with a voice as such, or at least type what I want to say. With that tangent in mind, the greatest strength I have as said by the admin of a site I regularly visit (www.ipowerproject.com) is online, online I can almost stand as an equal, the lack of speech isnt a problem in an entirely text based environment, so even in a small way, I can fit in, which even though I’ve accepted what I am sometimes gives me a little boost when I get down about how different muteness makes me.
The hardest part was and still is, how other people act towards you, some assume that you’re stupid, or out for attention (my school years saw no end of torment because of that particular opinion, even though I couldn’t word during the entire time I was there) or even just arrogant, all accusations I’ve had from people who simply didn’t know any better, times like that really do make you feel isolated and frustrated, you want to tell people, you want to scream and shout at them. But you can’t, you have to carry on forward or the bitterness takes hold and consumes you. Unfortunately that doesn’t help on the other end of the scale, I know muteness is nowhere near the worst thing that can happen to someone, at worst its an inconvenience, but you do get some people who try to sympathise, or take pity. The worst thing you can say to someone like me is anything along the lines of “It must be hard” or “i understand” because, most people don’t and we know it’s hard, we have to live with it day in day out, and the way people sometimes act towards us. There is a third category, some people try their hardest to avoid interacting with you, one “friend” put it this way “It’s too much effort to talk to you a lot of the time” which is arguably the one time I’ve ever felt truly angry for being the way I am, it makes you feel like a burden and you feel rejected and embarrassed for something that isn’t even your fault. This thankfully isn’t a common occurrence, the worst I’ve had apart from that is people either taking pains not to talk to me, or staff in shops just rolling their eyes when i try to write what I’m after, or just walking off because they’re too impatient to wait.
At the end of the day, im still a person, I just can’t speak, treat us as people, not glass or pariahs.