This is the last installment of my short blog series. And as I approach this final hurdle, I find myself standing in the same place I was when I first agreed to this endeavor. Meaning, I have no idea what to talk about.
However, it is not so much that I have nothing to say, but more that I have so much left to say and only about 600 words left to say it in. With that knowledge, a couple of perplexing questions keep surfacing:
- If you had five seconds in the limelight, what would you preach?
- If you could install one piece of advice into the minds of the millennial generation, what would it be?
Question Number 1
To answer the first question I took a walk down memory lane. I have looked back at the lessons my parents taught me thus far throughout my meager years. I hear my Pa speaking in my head: “This world does not owe you a living. Anything you get in life you are going to have to earn.” Concomitantly alongside this message, I was told (and reminded by the examples of others) that there is nothing in this world you cannot have. If you do the difficult things and put in hard work, you can accomplish anything.
I was born in a land where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were given to me. My family’s history could be an epic novel telling a harrowing story that’s underlying message would be that despite your background, circumstance, limitations or fears, hope for a better future is not a ludicrous idea… if you work for it.
What is it you want most in the world? For me, dreams of a cozy home close to family, a profession that I enjoy and am fascinated/rewarded by, and a steady happiness/contentment fueled by my faith in God. My honest answer to that first perplexing question? Do the hard things.
Question Number Two
Let me start by saying that we Millennials are unique. I think we can sometimes be seen by older individuals as egocentric, entitled, lazy, or apathetic (not a good way to begin a resume!). However, I do not believe us to be so different from past generations. As we (this generation) age, we too face the prospects of war and economic hardship. Our styles and music are not always a point of parental pride. The difference between my generation and those of the past are the continuous reminders of the gap between the “haves” and “have nots.”
Additionally, because of the worldwide connectivity that the current generation has ushered in, the shortcomings of this wave of young people are constantly accessible via a multitude of news channels, websites, blogs, and social media. Therefore, the only real difference between my generation and those of the past is that our concerns, cynicism, and mistakes are more widely reported.
With those from past generations looking to point out our failings and having a steady stream of validation for those failings, it is difficult to make them understand that we are no different than they once were. I believe we want what each young generation for the last hundred years has wanted: to be understood, respected, and given fair treatment based on the current environment.
With all that said, I find that any humble advice I might have to share with you I also preach to myself. Let’s utilize all our miraculous discovery for our good. Let’s allow it to be the making of us, instead of the stumbling block.
Live a life without limits
My relationship with Signia and the devices I wear in my ears are just one instance of how this generation of innovation can be part of our success story. Desirae Layher wears hearing aids. They help me hear. But also, I can have constant access to music through those very same hearing aids. It’s fun to stream music through them while doing even the simplest of things like washing the dishes after dinner (this has been a sore spot for my mom, who always forgets that my hearing aids can do such things and tries to have a conversation with me)!
It’s also interesting, as a teenage girl, to have “bionic” ears. These days, I hear a lot more than I used to. There have been a couple of times I’ve heard what a peer has whispered about me and newly understood that teens can mean. But, I also accidently heard that a certain guy liked my friend and she was overjoyed, because she’d had crush on him for a year. And now she wants to borrow my hearing aids! Who knew having a hearing loss could be such an enviable trait?
I kid you not, I have had numerous friends, family members, peers, and even random strangers comment on how awesome it is to be me and have access to the things I have access to, or how I can sign. Awesome to be me? Are they crazy? It blows me away to know that an individual with a documented “disability” (me) can be envied (in a good way) for who I am and what I’ve accomplished, because of said disability. If this kind of thing happens to me (random teenager in small dot Douglas, Wyoming), I know other you Millennials out there have people who see you as an inspiration. Perhaps you don’t realize it, but we all have an audience.
Who could have ever guessed I would ever have an audience with Signia and the people there behind the brand? They are a testimony of one generation pouring into another ― older empowering younger ― and of how opportunities are still out there waiting to be utilized. I have a future and being hard of hearing is not putting any limitations on it. Medical school isn’t a pipe dream!
Be a “Ben”
What’s your dream? Don’t wait until tomorrow; tomorrow begins today! Let’s start communicating through speech, for goodness sake! Talk to the people around you. Look for doors to open. Allow yourself to be helped and advised. And last, but certainly not least, pay it forward. Be the help or encouragement to another that you wished you’d had. Be like my audiologist ― be a Ben.
I want to conclude by saying, “Thank you”. Thank you, Ben (audiologist extraordinaire) and Mary Koperski for showing me that your profession can mean more and be more than a nine-to-five job. You opened your life to me and I will never be the same. To my Signia family, I am utterly amazed by your generosity and forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your vision: helping individuals with hearing loss.