Can deaf people have friends? Why not! We all need friendship in our life; it’s only the true friends that count.

During high school I had a lot of difficulty with friendships and social life; it was a big step up from primary school. Back then, there were seven girls in our year group, I had one best friend; H… and we are still very close today! I don’t know what I’d do without her. Everyone from the primary school went to the local high school, whereas I went to a local state boarding school (as a day student).

It was so difficult for me to adjust at high school; coming from a small village primary school to a huge campus with over 1,000 students was a completely different experience. I didn’t know anybody.

I certainly remember my first day back in September 2008, where I walked into the boarding house for the first time. Everyone seemed to have found their friendship groups, and I just chose to sit at the back. It was very painful, I felt so paranoid that people were looking at me as I was alone. I didn’t have the confidence to introduce myself, and I didn’t want people to know I was deaf as I was afraid they might judge me. As the day went on, a girl called ‘C’ and I became friends and eventually introduced me to her group, and that was the group I was with throughout most of my main school life.

They were not true friends.

Obviously, we were all young teenage girls, who have the occasional drama every now and again, but there were some days where I would agree to meet them somewhere so we could go into lunch together, but they just abandoned me. I hated that lunchtime. I had to sit on my own in the jam-packed refectory with everyone watching me, and they were nowhere to be seen.

Some days, I’d come home from school and just cry because they kept leaving me out and they never repeated themselves if I misheard etc. My absolute pet hate was if one of them was alone, she would ‘hang out’ with me, acting all friendly, but as soon as the better person came along, they just dropped me like I was a piece of rubbish. I’ll never forget that. If you’re one of them, and you’re reading this, I’m sorry if you feel offended – but you do NOT do that to people, especially if they’re deaf! Another thing is, I know that you were talking about me behind my back, just because I can’t hear, I can see your body language, so just stop judging people and think about how you’d feel if you were deaf!

As a result of this, I felt so lonely and vulnerable. I hated going to school as there were people I couldn’t stand seeing in the corridor. One girl came up and asked me “why do you sound weird” – that’s UNACCEPTABLE! Why would you say that?! Not just to me, but to anyone!? I may have a bit of a deaf accent, but think about what you’re saying as you don’t know how many feelings will get hurt.

As I grew up, main school life got better as I found a new friendship group where I felt more accepted, and some of them I’m still friends with today. I’ve done so well in my GCSE’s with 2A*s, 6 As and 2 Bs, same at AS Level with A,B,C,C… And now I’m about to take my A2 exams which I’m feeling confident about. Back to my point, I’ll never forget those horrible days, but since then I’ve matured and realised who my real friends are, and like my mum would say; “ignore them; they’re just jealous as they won’t be as successful as you in the future”.

My advice to deaf people out there, ignore the haters, be confident, don’t waste your life with someone who won’t treat you with respect, your real friends are out there – you’ve just got to find them.

Love E x

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