That Deaf Dancer…

Dancing has saved my life. Period. I had been dancing for nearly 23 years. From that tiny basement to professional level. Yah, professional! That’s when it all finally paid off. Go me!

Why, you say? Well duh. Growing up was not always easy. Countless days of bullying and taunting allowed me to be free in a dance classroom. Also allowed freedom of expression and interactions with fellow dancers. The thing is, I didn’t really have a voice at such a young age and had a hard time defending myself. When young kids see your hearing aids, take it from me, they’re cruel as hell.

I had a voice in the dance world. Countless hours dancing and going to dance workshops, classes by top name dance professionals before they became big today, trips to NYC to attend dance classes at Broadway Dance Center, huge dance conventions such as JUMP, Shake The Floor, etc. I attended a performing arts high school, even started out as a dance major in college and participated in a pom squad. With a minor change in my career choice when the economy dropped, I decided to try out for the Baltimore Ravens at the time. Which also led MTV to follow me and do a story. If you ever feel so inclined to, google it, I’m sure it’s on YouTube as well. And no, I don’t watch it. Seriously.

While finishing up my degree, I was also fortunate to join the Baltimore Blast Cheerleading Squad which encouraged me to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders upon graduation. What a freaking fun ride. I went into the audition with no clue what I was getting myself into. I’ve met some amazing ladies who I still talk to this day. I got the experience of my life that I would’ve never imagined. I still look back and remember the chills I get when the fighter jets fly over the stadium during the national anthem or performing to the Eagles Fight Song. Goosebumps man.

But dude! Let’s rewind. That was a tough audition. The most nerve racking part of it was the live stage interview. Also! It was live on the internet too. Could you believe that? Me? That deaf girl has to ask for help? My god. There’s a panel of 10 judges in front of you and when your turn was up, they randomly pick a question and you have to answer it as best as you can. Hell no. Have you heard my alien voice? And it’s dark as hell. So dark you can’t even read their lips! What if it was a former NFL player mumbling something and you’re forced to ask him to repeat it multiple times? What was I supposed to do? Seriously, just save me the agony and just let me do what I do best. Dance and strut across the floor in my bikini ok? Please please?

Fortunately, I got my shit together and talked to the director about my situation. Now, if you know me, I flipping HATE asking for help. Like why does this have to be so damn HARD and yet it was something I needed to do. She was kind enough to let me in on a few questions. Yup the secrets out. If they couldn’t help me out especially after making it this far along, then BYE Felicia! Not worth the embarrassments and sacrifices I had to make which included missing exams, skipping classes and traveling 4 hr round trips from school to attend all this hard earned work that could possibly never happen. Hey, I was not going to let this opportunity go. (Cue Eminem rap) One thing I learned from my mother is perseverance is key.

perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. 

http://www.dictionary.com

To get what you strive, eat, sleep and breath for, you’re going to do EVERYTHING you can to make this happen. Looking back, this accommodation was so MINOR, man. It can be so embarrassing especially when you’re about to be part of a major NFL organization.

It’s finals night. (Not the exams stoopid). I do my thing, telling myself, no one gives a shit if you don’t make it or not. (Truth is, I had a ton of people behind me on this. So thank you. You all know who you are. Especially you MOM!) Finally, the next day my number was called and it hit me that all these years of sweat, tears, hard work finally paid off. F yes! My mother knew I could do this and because of her, none of this would’ve happened. I followed my dreams. Basically. I’ve experienced so many rejections and this was now my moment to shine….

Time to wrap this up. We’re heading up to the mountain to enjoy a conjoined bachelor/bachelorette weekend! 🙂

Oh yeah and Go Eagles!

Heart to Hand 2021 Submission

Good luck to everyone!

Netflix’s Deaf U Thoughts

This show has been interesting to say in the least. I first heard of the show coming out a month prior. It was circulating on social media and the trailer looked so good. It seemed to showcase deaf struggles in the real world.

WRONG.

Reason #1 – It’s a bunch of college kids attending Gallaudet University in Washington DC. For some of us that went to college sure do know all about the college lifestyle. There seem to be a lot of drama within the characters. The group they casted somehow seem to be two-faced. Also, sleeping around with talks of getting another person pregnant on purpose? I get it. BUT it’s not something I’d want my daughter to watch and learn about my world.

Reason #2 – It’s not a very good representation of us who are deaf or hard of hearing in the real world. “Do you all act like that?” NO. The reality is there are major differences on the deaf spectrums. The hearing may like it because it’s giving them interesting “perspectives”. I wished the show showed more struggles in real life. For example, what the classrooms are like, what’s studying like, what is it like to work, be around other hearing people, etc.

Reason #3 – The episodes are very short. Not sure why but I wished they elaborate more on their lives rather than being drama and sex focused. It is a documentary and showcased real stories. There were interesting perspectives in different episodes. There were very brief stories of molestations, abortion, LGTBQ, family, relationships, etc, OUTSIDE of their college life.

On the plus side, the end of the last episode gave me all the feels. I can relate to one character named Cheyenna. She’s deaf and uses sign but also words it out with her lips. Some of her friends didn’t like that. She chooses not to use oral speech. It’s just a choice of hers but it’s not good enough for her peers. The deaf culture is separated into different groups. It can be very hateful and discriminating. It’s part of why I didn’t want to attend Gallaudet. I use oral speech and am always questioned by the deaf community about why I don’t express with my hands. How I shouldn’t use my mouth to communicate. How I shouldn’t be wearing hearing aids and be cut off from the hearing world. No matter what I do, it’s not good enough. It’s a very constant state of feeling inferior. Using oral speech is a CHOICE I chose to use. I’ve learned ASL different stages of my life and even teach my 9 month old daughter to use it.

No matter what your choices are, be a better self advocate. Educating others is a constant work in progress. Keep going. Be you. And always be kind to others.