My Most Difficult Life Challenge Gave Me Strength and Wisdom

Deaf by Cintia Paz
Deaf by Cintia Paz


Some things develop over time— hurricanes, puberty, and siblings getting along. Sometimes in an instant— like heart attacks, earthquakes, and the moment I went deaf. I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom, and there was no rustling of papers, no voices, and no hum of the air conditioning. It was as if someone secretly unplugged my ears. Now it is but a fleeting memory, possibly, because of the trauma of the moment.

Like everyone who can hear, I went through my days not giving my hearing much thought. So until the day I became deaf, I never understood what it meant to truly appreciate something until you’ve lost it. In a blink of an eye losing all my hearing provoked a lifelong struggle to accept a tremendous change that would require major adjustment. I had to figure out how to move forward every day after losing a physical part of me. It completely altered my life; I lost my ability to understand friends and family, and consequently I felt like the floor collapsed beneath my feet. That disconnect between me and the world made my emotions razor thin. Something as simple as “What do you want to eat?” had to be written down on a Post-It note.
I was fortunate enough to have my parents’ and brothers’ support through all of it, however, I was full of anger and resentment. I was constantly trying to comprehend that for the rest of my life I would never hear again.
I had to dig down deep to try to converse with people and to create social situations, but it felt more like foiled attempts. Trying to interact with others felt like participating in a decathlon.

Talking was work, it was just so much work.

Nonetheless, I slowly figured out that amidst all the chores of communicating, I had actually started developing skills. Using my other senses, I grew a new antenna to build bridges of communication. I had discovered a new way of listening.
I became hyper vigilant visually and became a master at reading lips, forced to keep secrets of and from my own classmates. I sleep wonderfully even when the neighbor is loudly mowing his lawn or blasting music early in the morning, and I can escape the suffering of a parent lecture.

I had finally realized the blessings of being a deaf person. I shifted from victim to gifted, from damaged to feeling courageous. I also realized that being a good listener doesn’t require hearing; listening requires patience, courtesy, and respect. I once considered listening to others to be my foremost liability and dis-ability, a pre-ordained lifelong struggle and permanent wedge between me and the world. But the act of listening transformed into my greatest passion in life and helped me to discover the career I want to pursue that is completely dependent on listening skills: talk therapy.

Of course I still struggle, and always think that my potential is limited. I break down crying thinking I should be at a school for the deaf, especially when I get a C on a test, a grade that had nothing to do with my lack of knowledge or effort. When everyone is learning lyrics of a song they’re listening to in the car, I’m back home studying the words so I don’t look like a fool at parties.

But then again, I have a family that loves me and friends who care.

The moral of the story is this:

What you go through, it gives you the strength and wisdom you have now. I found a way to shine by turning something I thought I’d never be good at, listening, and made it the very thing I was best at. As a deaf person, I may view and interpret the world differently, but that doesn’t mean I view it wrong. I might have a disability, but the abilities I have in life count for so much more. When you have been through challenges and overcome obstacles, your view of the world is much wiser and mature because of the mere fact that you know things other people don’t. So use that to your advantage.

Age 17



  • Dear Giselle, You are an inspiration to us all. Your strength, wisdom and big heart have turned a challenging situation to your advantage for soul searching and growth. You are eqipped to reach the sky and achieve any goal you set out to do, so proud of you! and Thank you for sharing your transfirming journey with all of us. Love you, Vicky

  • Dearest Giselle,
    The people who’s lives youhave already touched and will touch in the future are all better for knowing you. You have been blessed to have so many loving family members and friends. But the people you will inspire in your lifetime will be your greatest gift. As one of your many friends, I am truly proud of you and your accomplishments. With love, Bobbe

  • Dear Gisselle
    You are a great inspiration to all of us. So proud of you. You are the real Winner!! And yes you have the best parents and brothers and at the same time you are so special. We love you

  • Wow Giselle, no words can express my admiration to you. You are one of a kind amazing intelligent your lady. You are such an inspiration to all of us. You took a lemon and turned it into a lamonade. Thank you for sharing your story. Much love. Xoxo Dafna Tene.

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