In the days leading up to the launch of Matt’s newest book, he’s asked me to write something for readers facing their first marathon. Something inspiring, maybe, or some insider tips and tricks. I was happy to oblige — my first marathon led me to this gig writing for No Meat Athlete! — though I will admit I struggled with what, exactly, to write about.
Then it hit me: It’s time I finally shared my secret weapon with you.
I have a confession to make.
It’s recently been brought to my attention that over the last year of writing for No Meat Athlete, I’ve neglected to mention something about myself that is otherwise pretty obvious when you meet me.
Don’t get me wrong — if you meet me, I look like I do in my pictures. I’m just as much of a klutzy schmuck jokester in real life as I am in my writing. But there’s something else.
Yup, you read that right: My ears don’t work. I lost my hearing to an unknown virus when I was 2 1/2, and since then, I’ve been known as “that deaf girl.”
Save the pity party for someone who needs it. I’m telling you now because my disability has taught me one important thing that everyone needs to know:
Denial is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
You see, when I lost my hearing, my parents were told I’d never be “normal.” I’d need to be enrolled in a school for the deaf, learn sign language, and otherwise be okay with being an outsider in a world full of sound. They were faced with “She can’t,” “She won’t,” and “Don’t even bother.”
And you know what they did? They responded with “She can,” “She will,” and “Kiss my ass.”
Most parents tell their children they can do anything they want or be anyone they want to be. When you have a disabled child, however, it can be hard to say it and actually believe it. Thankfully, my mom and dad set the tone for my life with one simple attitude: Denial.
I wanted to be on the swim team, but couldn’t hear the starting gun? Cool. They found someone to tap me on the ankle when the gun went off.
I wanted to play saxophone in the school band? Awesome. I got seated in front of the big bass drum so I could feel the beat resonate in my body to keep me on tempo.
The kids are picking on me because I talk funny? They’re morons. I got a crash course in how to stick up for myself, and soon realized that humor is the best weapon out here.
You see, instead of making my disability a “thing,” we simply pretended it wasn’t there. I now realize the best part about being deaf:
I can’t hear the critics.
Denial is my secret weapon. It doesn’t matter what the goal is; I refuse to accept “I can’t,” “I won’t,” or “Don’t even bother” as acceptable self-talk…and I certainly don’t let anyone talk to me that way.
Today, I’m your normal 27 year-old: I go to work, I study for my doctorate, I train for Ironman triathlons, I write for a website, I volunteer in my community, I spend time with my friends and family.
Oh, yeah, and I can’t hear. Whatever. Though it’s one of the most obvious things about me when someone meets me, it’s pretty low on the list of things that actually define me.
It’s nothing but a speed bump.
I could let my disability serve as an excuse for avoiding so many things in life, but why? It’s a piss-poor excuse.
Every single challenge in life provides us with an opportunity. Rather than seeing each obstacle as a dead end, realize that it’s nothing more than a speed bump; You might have to slow down a little bit for it, but you can get over it.
Chances are, you have a couple piss-poor excuses, too. Think about your goals and your so-called “pipe dreams.” Maybe you’re looking at Matt’s marathon guide and thinking “I’d like to do a marathon someday, but I never could because (insert lame excuse here).”
If you take a second to really consider it, you’ll realize your excuses are nothing but speed bumps, too.
Instead of letting your so-called limitations define you, use it as an opportunity to prove everybody wrong. Whenever you hear “You can’t,” “You won’t,” and “Don’t even bother,” I want you to put on your biggest smile and reply:
” I can, I will…and kiss my ass.”
You can follow Susan on Twitter @susanlacke.