I survived without a cell phone for over a month. My cracked screen ended up taking this long to get fixed. The screen that the phone repair guy ordered took a while to arrive. I got annoyed at how much time it was taking because my cell phone is the main way I use to contact people.
I had to rely on other means of communication during this time. Emailing and messenger worked for most of my communications with people. However, not with all my communication needs.
I could email people to meet at a specific time and location. But without my phone I miss the memo that my friend had last minute changes. On one occasion I was waiting at a location to meet a friend and wondered why my friend didn't show.
Understood most of the time
My experience of having no cell phone is like my speech impediment. My speech has been unclear all my life. People who are close to me like my friends and family have gotten used to how I speak.
So, they can talk to me and understand most of what I say. I love having conversations with them and doing life together with them. Also, I know that is reciprocated as well.
Talking is the way people bond with each other. People who can understand how I speak are able to have great conversations with me. We can have heartfelt conversations and grow a friendship.
I can share my ideas and opinions when I have constructive conversations. I can discuss things going on in someone’s life and provide encouragement to them. Also, I can learn from what other people share and be encouraged by others.
Everyone longs to feel connected, loved, and belonging. These feelings are found in the friendships we make and develop. When I bond well with people I feel like I'm a part of their lives and a part of a community.
Being misunderstood means no bonding
Sometimes I am unable to chat with someone because they aren't used to my speech. I don’t get frustrated that they can’t understand me, but the fact the that we’re unable to bond is frustrating. Thus, I miss out on a heart to heart or even everyday conversations with people in my community.
Missing out on conversations may also mean missing out on opportunities. Talking to people can sometimes present to us opportunities, for example, job opportunities.
Everyone wants to contribute something useful to society. It builds up self-esteem. People don't usually expect a person with disabilities to complete tasks. That is
because they tend to see the weak side. People don't see the qualities and strengths of someone until they sit down and talk to the person.
I am empowered when I get the chance to contribute back to my community. People learn what I’m capable of and know what I can do as they get to know me. In these relationships, I find it easier to put my hand up to offer help.
Communication is the key
Communication is the key to everything. We have conversations about everything. Our dream job, or what we want to do with friends or have funny banters. Being able to have these conversations may not seem a big deal. Yet, what we do in our lives flows from the conversations we have. Talking with people also makes life more exciting.
When you can’t speak
Even though I find it frustrating that some people can’t understand me, it is more for a non-verbal person. If they don’t have a way to communicate then the conversations they have are very limited. People around them may not get to find out their thoughts or views on things.
Moreover, they can’t express what they want to do it in their lives. Their thoughts, dreams, desires and passions are locked up in their heads. They don’t know how to get it out of in the open. Or people struggle to find ways to listen to the person’s heart.
I have come to really appreciate conversations because of my struggles with speaking. Knowing I have more speaking ability than others magnify my appreciation. For this reason and also to connect with more people I try my best to talk to everyone I can.
People may just not be confident to start a conversation. So, we should try and step out of our comfort zones and talk to people. This adds people to our social networks. We may even learn something interesting from talking to someone different. Also, making a new friend is always a bonus for both parties.
The key to growing any of our relationships is to communicate well. Communicate with people with words and in ways that they would understand. Ensure that you're on the same page with people to avoid misunderstandings. Good chats and good discussions always lift peoples’ spirits.
Manuele Teofilo lives in South Auckland with his parents and siblings. He recently graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Human Services and plans to work in the disability sector. He enjoys getting around in his electric wheelchair and having fun with people.