We all struggle and will continue to struggle because nobody in this world is perfect. All my life, I struggled and continue to struggle no matter how hard I try to hear. One of the biggest challenges I used to have is overcoming my shyness. When I was little, only a few friends tried to help me. I recall meeting a lot of friends, and I tried really hard to communicate with them. Unfortunately, the more I tried to talk, the less confident I became because those friends didn’t give me an opportunity to communicate. I felt lonely, sad, and empty inside. I became afraid to speak and communicated less with these friends at school. I noticed those friends stopped inviting me to eat with them during lunch breaks. I ate alone a lot, which was another reason why I was bullied because I had no one to talk to. My experience during my elementary school years negatively affected my self-esteem.
My mother enrolled me in a private middle school because she knew that I would see the same students who bullied me at elementary school if I were to attend a public middle school. However, I was not doing so well during my fifth grade year. I didn’t know how to read, study and write. All I knew was how to multiply and add numbers. I would earn straight F’s during my elementary school years, and because I wasn’t doing so well, my mother felt that I needed to repeat the fifth grade for my own benefit. I felt ashamed, dumb and unworthy.
Another reason why my mother made me redo the fifth grade is because she wanted Ms. T to become my teacher. Ms. T was my brother’s teacher when he was younger, so because she knew her already, she trusted Ms. T.
While I was crying in front of all the students and parents during the first day of school, Ms. T grabbed my hand and told me that she was going to change my life. The first thing Ms. T did was ask Nancy, who is now a really good friend of mine, to become my friend and forced us to hold hands while we walked to our classroom. I felt weird because the only person I would hold hands with was my mother.
Nancy immediately talked to me and smiled a lot. I wasn’t smiling and refused to talk to her because I was used to having bullies around me. Every day, Nancy spend more time with me. She made small talk and continued to smile. The more Nancy talked, the more I wanted to open up. Nancy didn’t care that I was dumb and deaf. She let me take my time with her.
Here are a few steps that Nancy used to support and helped me overcome my shyness:
- She reminded every day that I wasn’t dumb. She told me that I was smart and encouraged me to read more. Nancy and Ms. T helped me earn Ds and Cs. Every time I improved my grades, Nancy rewarded me by buying me chocolate.
- Nancy invited me to eat breakfast and lunch together. In addition, she asked others if we can tag along to eat or play together as a group.
- Nancy was there to defend me when I was bullied. The more Nancy defended me, the more I wanted to become her friend because I knew she was a true friend.
- Nancy set goals every day and asked me to start playing Volleyball with her.
- Nancy wrote me small notes with silly faces. She was trying to teach me new words and definitions. That worked a lot to improve my grades!
- Nancy loved drawing on her hands and created silly stories using her hands, which made me laugh.
- Nancy gave me her phone number to talk during weekends.
In the end, Nancy was my first friend who changed my life. Ms. T was right because she did change my life. I thank God for giving me two angels, Ms. T and Nancy. There are many ways you can support a timid person who has hearing loss. Be patient, make small talk and smile a lot. Be loyal and trustworthy too. Also, what’s most important is to let the timid person speak. While your timid friend is speaking, never make fun of the way he or she speaks. For a shy person to overcome his or her shyness, he or she needs a chance to practice speaking and communicating. So, encourage your shy friend to continue to talk and be a good listener.