Sunday, May 15, 2011
God help you if you are a phoenix
and you dare to rise up from the ash
a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
while you are just flying past
--Ani DiFranco, "32 Flavors"
The quote from "32 Flavors" resonates with me, and not necessarily the way DiFranco intended when she wrote the song. Recently I told my family that I am tired of being a trailblazer. I'm hearing impaired. I teach, I write, and no one in the school district seems to know what to do with me. They're accustomed to shuttling their disabled students off to special classes, but a disabled, capable, professional? They're stumped.
Maybe the image from DiFranco's song is what I need. If I can re-imagine my role not as the one out front stepping in front of the crowd, leading the way through the mud and getting slashed with low-hanging branches, if I can envision instead the phoenix rising from the ashes, it might give me the strength to fight my battles and leave a good, clear path for those who follow.
It's not easy being - well, it's like Kermit the Frog. It's not easy being different. I wonder if some perceive my success as somehow easier, rather than harder, than theirs. Do they think I got a break because I don't hear well? I have a hearing aid compatible phone. I.T. provided me with a longer cord so the computer monitor doesn't interfere with my telecoil setting. Those reasonable accommodations, however, didn't make teaching easier than it is for other, non-disabled teachers. These accommodations merely leveled the playing field.
Now I'm moving to a new position, one that I feel will be a better fit for my abilities than attempting to hear and react to a large, noisy classroom. I applied for and got this job through seniority, not through disability. I hope no one thinks I've jumped the line by virtue of my hearing loss. Then again, who cares? Anyone who thinks so is wrong. I know what the truth is, and if I rise from the ashes on my own, it's a gain for all around me.Stumble It!