The Real Reason I want to FIRE – becoming deaf

FIRE - the masses yearning to breathe free

Financial Independence Retire Early; a movement that has been sweeping the globe and has really become a an evolved ‘American dream.’

This dream is no longer the white picket fence with the perfect family of 2 children (1 boy and 1 girl). It has evolved into the desire of being free from debt, from having to work a 9-5 corporate job, etc. It is slowly changing the working landscape as it becomes mainstream. There are even companies offering extended vacations or sabbaticals to try and keep their best employees. To be honest, the reasons to pursue FIRE are as unique as the people pursuing it. 

"Not everyone can hear"

Deaf U
Courtesy of Youtube and Netflix

As some of you may know, there is a new Netflix series (Deaf U, here is a trailer from YouTube) that follows the students of Gallaudet University.

Crista, what does this have to do with you?

I am getting to it. 

This series highlights some of the struggles of deaf students. 

The first hearing test that I took was in 7th/8th grade, I had just moved to the States. For those of you who know not know, I was born in the U.S but I grew up abroad.

Anyway…

I always knew there was something wrong with my hearing. However, I never thought that I was the only one with this problem. I thought it was normal. 

It was after this test that I was told that I had hearing issues. However, it was not until I was 20 that I got my first hearing aids. I did not struggle as much as people think, because I could read lips but a skill I could only use if someone was facing me. So, I became the weird, quiet girl, when my personality was the opposite. 

I was also in denial of my hearing loss and refused to learn ASL. This was, in part, because I wanted to fit in with my classmates.

Back to me at that first hearing test. I was told that I needed to start being careful with the volume of my speakers because if I not, I would be deaf by the time I was 23. Well, I was careful, and even now am careful with volume, especially when I have headphones on. 

The new chapter

My hearing aids changed my life. I heard so many sounds that I did not know existed. I even corrected how I pronounced certain words, but I still have my ‘deaf accent.’

IT WAS A LIFE GAMECHANGER

Many factors of my life improved and I was able to climb out of my shell, which I had been hiding underneath this quiet exterior for years. 

Realization set in

Over the years, I have noticed my hearing getting worse. I had changed my major several times during undergrad to prepare myself for not being able to hear anymore. I knew I needed a career path that would allow me to not have to talk to people as much but I wanted it to be something I enjoyed. This is how I ended up where I am, doing a Ph.D. in a field I love and a topic that interests me.

However, I realized that as my hearing loss progresses I needed to have another back-up plan. 

This is where FIRE comes in.

I want to be financially independent enough that I can stop working  if my hearing worsens to the point that it inhibits my work.

What now?

I am still able to work and my hearing aids work well enough right now that I can continue on my current career path. 

I am working towards FIRE, but only in the event that I can no longer work effectively. This is why I do not have a FIRE date but I am planning to do mini-retirements instead. Which I have written about in-depth in this post.

I have also begun learning ASL and honing my lip-reading skills. I can still read lips, however, I somewhat lost the skill a little when I began wearing hearing aids exclusively. 

 

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