Before I tell you why sign language is the only reason I don’t like traveling solo, I’d like to share you one thing that thousand travelers over the world asked me on my trip. “Is it really hard for you to travel solo?“
“Umm, aren’t you traveling solo… I believe you do have answer for that. It can be hard or easy for everybody. Depends really,” I answered.
“No, no, no, sorry is it hard for you to be traveling solo as a Deaf person?” asked by thousand travelers.
“Oh that’s a good question, it has been merely three weeks so far,” I awkwardly answered.
Unfortunately, I can’t really give an answer now. It’s still too early for me because it’s been only three week since I went solo. Well, throughout the three weeks of my solo, that same question was asked many times. That question has been dropping over a thousand of pebbles on my shoulder. I just want to get the pebbles off my shoulder. I’ll give you one answer, which I know is entirely true to me.
Traveling solo can be difficult. The truth is, I am very aggressive person; I’ll always find a way to make new friends. I’ll always find a way to communicate with new friends. I like challenges because I like to destroy things. Explodes! Booms! Well, it’s clear that traveling solo hasn’t been a problem for me. So, What’s the main problem here?
There are countless backpackers—couples, old, young, and relatives—traveling the world. The common thing they all have in traveling is using their voice to speak, which I clearly can’t. They can speak with their voice. I can’t. Yes it’s necessary for me to repeat these because that’s how much I want to emphasize!
Now that simple questions may have appeared in the back of your mind, “umm, don’t you have a device to communicate with them or use the traditional way to communicate with them by writing papers?” Duh! Yeah, duh me! No, duh you—I’ve been doing that since the day I started traveling. It’s pretty easy to communicate with them in these methods. Find people who are willing to take their time to chat with you guys because these methods really slow down the way we communicate. For instance, two deaf people can make a conversation out of many subjects in an hour. Now, a hearing person and deaf person can make a conversation out of two to four subjects in an hour. Why? It takes time to finish up typing or writing your side of conversation making sure it can be understood easily. That blows. I know, my friend. That isn’t really a problem for me though.
Having the inability to use sign language is actually the problem for me here! Don’t get me wrong. I do really enjoy communicating with everybody through written English. I really do. It’s just that…
Let me tell you a little about myself. I have been born Deaf. I am a third generation of deaf family. I spend my entire childhood in the Deaf community where I always have used my sign language as my main communication method. I am really good at communicating with everybody in sign language. I can easily express anything I want to say in sign language. I’m so damn good at using sign language so that have been boosting my confidence in general. When I socialize with deaf people, I always converse over countless subjects because I know I can get to finish talking about these subjects quickly. I tend to deliver my strong-toned facial expression that demonstrates the message I have in my side of conversation.
Frankly, I’m not exactly great at writing. When it comes to writing in English to communicate with people, I always hesitate about what to say, which word I should use, whether if my grammar is correct or not, etc. Not only that, I don’t get to use my facial expression and body gestures/language. I feel so limited with what I want to communicate of. It’s weird and hard for me to try emphasizing or expressing a certain tone of mine in English, so my message would be 100% clear to them.
It also restricts me from discussing more and deeper conversation topics due to insufficient time because writing on a paper or typing on a device takes a while. Sometimes a topic can easily be done in five minutes. Sometimes I could tell how boring it is for some people to wait for me to finish writing. Things become harder for me if the person I approach isn’t good in writing too. It’s really hard. But does that bother me? No, what bothers me the most is not being able to use my own native language.
That hit me really hard. I realize how much I really value my sign language. I realize how much I really love signing. I can now understand why the Deaf community really values its language. The most of languages I know relies on its writing. For my language, it relies on facial expression, body movement, and shape of hands. With these do make me feel more powerful or confidence with whatever I want to say. Isn’t that cool? However, all I know is that American Sign Language is my language. Nothing will ever change that!