Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:11:14 EST
HearStrong Champion Jennifer Gibson, is a Black Belt, a public speaker, and an accomplished author. Born with hearing loss in the early 1970's, Jennifer had to learn to navigate a world that did not always accommodate her. While she is proud of her hearing aids now, it was not always an easy journey, and she often found comfort in fictional stories. This was a part of her inspiration as she developed her own series of critically-acclaimed novels about a young girl with hearing loss.
Read what Jennifer has to say, and see how fiction has helped her get through her most challenging moments.
As a child, I used to love watching Doctor Who. To me, it was a form of escapism, a chance to tune out the world, particularly the negative experiences I endured at school due to my hearing loss. It wasn't easy dealing with it as a young child, and I was often bullied and ostracized. I was a shy kid and felt the impact of the isolation that came with the difficulties of my limited hearing. I had a severe to profound hearing loss and wore analog hearing aids, which had limited capabilities when it came to picking up speech. This meant that every day was a challenge for me, and I was always exhausted by the time I came home from school.
One of the few things that I enjoyed was viewing my favorite shows, especially Doctor Who. Whenever it was on TV, I felt free to let my imagination soar. There was something special about it to me. I felt safe. It was a part of my routine, something to look forward to at the end of the day. The uniqueness of that show appealed to me. It was full of endless possibilities, and I loved that.
I came from a family of uber nerds. We all watched science fiction shows religiously, and that included Star Trek and Star Wars. We would go to the movie theaters whenever they aired, even though they didn't have captioning back then. It was one of those rare moments that brought us together as a family.
The creativity of those shows, particularly the writing, produced a strong interest in me that I didn't know existed yet. If someone had gone back in time and told me that I would grow up to be a published author, public speaker, advocate for hearing loss, martial arts instructor, and following in my mother's footsteps in fencing, I would've likely given them a swift kick in the shins and called them a liar. Or run away screaming. It would've sounded a lot like fiction.
Ironically, the fictional books I've written are based on my childhood, growing up with a severe hearing loss. I think that my love for unique stories helped pave the way for using my imagination in many aspects of my life today.
I think that writing stories or designing book covers for other authors, helps me feel safe and grounded. Creating new worlds is a way of immersing myself in imaginative surroundings that are entirely my own. It's a way of escaping reality, even for a little while.
It's like coming back home to that childlike awe and wonder, where a part of my younger self still resides in me. I get that same joy whenever I watch the latest episode of Doctor Who, that giddy and delightful moment when it's about to start. In a way, it's like going back in time, just for a little while. I feel safe once again, where my hearing aids don't matter.
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