February 27, 2017

It's Important. Be You!

Over the last few weeks, I have been able to collaborate with Renee, Founder & CEO at Olive Devices as a guest writer. It has been fun to work with Renee and learn about what they are trying to accomplish. A theme I noticed about her is that she is not afraid to be who she is. Below is the article I wrote titled, "It's Important. Be You!" You can learn more about Renee and the goals she is trying to achieve here.

Shortly after losing my hearing, I was told many things. I was told I would have speech
problems, that I would not excel in school, and that life would be harder for me. My parents were
also told many things about how my life would turn out because I was deaf. At an early age, I
began to learn that it is important to be me, not anyone else. It was not always easy and I
realized that I needed to find people who believed in me, I needed to surround myself with the
right tools to help aim for success, and I needed to personally believe that I can do anything.

In order to be you, you need to find people who believe in you. It can be family, friends or a
religious group -- some place where you can feel okay being you. For me, it was with my family.
I grew up with two younger brothers and one sister. I also have a big extended family, with over
20 aunts and uncles, and I am the oldest grandchild of 70+ grandkids. This big family of mine
helped shape me into who I am today. They all believed in me. When life gets hard, I remember
my family who have always been the foundation for my success.
Surround yourself with the right tools for success. In a world that offers many choices of
technology or services, are we picking the right ones for our success? Shortly after losing my
hearing, my parents invested lots of time and energy into finding the right tools for me. My father
is a contractor and loves his tool belt. Each tool is designed for a specific job, but they don't all
work for everything. He has tools that are best for building a roof and others for laying tile. I was
given the tool of a Cochlear Implant to help me hear. The Cochlear Implant is not always the
right tool for everyone and it is important to remember that. Olive Devices is working to create a
way to help someone who can't hear. One project, called FreeBell, is a wearable device that will
help people know where sounds are coming from by vibrating on the side of the body where the
sound is detected. It will also turn the speech into a written text for the recipient to understand.
This is another tool that can be added to your tool belt.

Now that you are surrounded by those who are rooting for your success and have a tool belt
filled with the right tools to help you, what's next? Believe in yourself! If you don't believe in
yourself, how are you going to have the motivation to reach your dreams, run that extra mile, or
to simply be you? Throughout my life, I have developed a passion for photography. When I look
at a photo, I am reminded of my hearing loss. There is no sound, only expressions and
moments in time. Photography became a way to help me tell my story and to be who I am.
While I was learning this skill, I had to believe in myself. I had to believe that my perspective
mattered and that I had something to contribute to those around me. This made me comfortable
enough to share it with the world. Remember, it is important to be you.