I started an American Sign Language class back in September. I’d always wanted to take it and my work offered to pay, so I figured, why not?
My teacher is deaf, and awesome, and has a strict no talking rule. If you don’t know a sign, you can fingerspell it. There were a few times where I came to class having not practiced and felt anxious. Feeling dumb is not something that I like to feel often.
When my teacher was out sick, we had a hearing ASL interpreter teach us that day. She told us about a time that she was at my work translating for a deaf person. She left for a bit and when she came back, one of the deaf person’s team members said, “Oh, you’re finally back. Can you let her [deaf team member] know that we’re all going to go to lunch together at 1?”
The translator was flabbergasted that this person waited until a hearing person was back to communicate this. He didn’t try communicating with his deaf teammate directly by miming it out or writing it down on a piece of paper.
“Deaf people are surrounded by hearing people all the time. They’re always out of their comfort zone. Would it kill you to get out of your comfort zone for 10 minutes?”
It made me feel like shit for all the times I considered dropping American Sign Language because I didn’t practice and felt uncomfortable trying to sign and failing. If deaf people can deal with this 24/7, I can handle it for two hours a week.
Then I got to thinking about being uncomfortable and realized that taking ASL was the first time I’d felt uncomfortable in a long time. I spent the last few years staying well within my comfort zone. And that’s not a place that you want to be all the time. If you’re not out of your comfort zone, you’re not growing. Essentially, I spent the last four years stagnant.
So, 2018 is going to be the year that I get uncomfortable. I’m going to continue my ASL classes. And I’ve signed up for a humor writing class that ends with a live performance. That’s right, I’m doing stand-up. I’ve wanted to for a long time, but felt uncomfortable speaking in front of others, especially trying to make them laugh. I’m also going to start therapy again, which makes me wildly uncomfortable. I hate talking about myself and admitting to someone else how broken I am.
Hopefully, by the end of 2018 I’ll have grown as a person and be closer to my ideal self. And if not, well, hopefully I’ll have learned what not to do.