Our weaknesses can feed our strengths

Twenty years ago, going to college wasn’t an option for me. My parents didn’t have money to help me and my job didn’t pay enough. However, in 2005, the Brazilian Federal Government started offering scholarships to students with high grades in one national exam (ENEM). So, after I took this very competitive exam, I won a scholarship and chose to study Information Systems (even though I didn’t know how to turn on a computer). But things didn’t become easier for me. I had to work ten hours a day to afford rent and food, and at night I went to university. I didn’t have a car. I slept little, ate poorly, worked, and studied too much. I lived in a very hot apartment, which in the summer I needed to try to sleep with only a fan and a cold shower to cool me down. After 4 years of living like this, I suddenly lost a large part of my hearing, in my last month of college. No one doctor knows why this happens, but they believe it was connected with many illnesses and meningitis that I had, together with sleepless nights and poor diet, that could cause my hearing loss. After that, communicating became something very difficult for me. I was gradually excluded from work conversations. With my hearing loss, I also had to deal with very loud tinnitus, and it almost made me crazy. Those very lonely moments made me realize a couple of things.

  • Although books had been my friends, the lack of human connection could destroy a soul. I realized I cannot make everything by myself.
  • When we feel lost, we can find a safe place inside our mind, and find early memories that remind ourselves who we are, and what matters.

Today, connecting with people on some level is essential to me. With my hearing loss, I learned how I can communicate better with people because I have to connect with them to understand the way they talk, and then infer what they said. This is why my weakness became my strength.

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