It is crazy how I still feel some kind of way before I even start this confession. The first time I declined a proposal of marriage, I felt extremely stressed. Imagine feeling more pressure to say yes to a major life decision from society than from the guy proposing. I was fresh out of college and in my second rebound relationship. I knew when he asked that the answer was no, but I didn’t have the guts to answer him right away. At the time, I was still job-hunting after accepting a job and moving to San Antonio while waiting to see if I got accepted into one of the graduate schools I applied. But most importantly, I was still in the “depression stage” of the 5 stages of grief (after losing by hearing). I was in no position to be anyone’s wife. I was still adjusting to being a silent beauty.
A silent beauty is a moniker that allows for interpretation. You can be literal and say that it’s a beauty that has no words or does not speak upon itself such as flowers or sunsets. On the other hand, you can be figurative and say that it’s charisma that radiates from within and slowly seeps to the surface. I think it’s much simpler than that. In my opinion, I’m a beautiful person, inside and out, that just happens to be deaf/hard-of-hearing (HOH).
One day as I was sitting at the pool having a moment of self-reflection, I realized that my experience in beauty pageants while I was hearing was completely different than the beauty pageant I participated in as a HOH woman. At the surface, both were similar in execution, purpose, education, judging, and platform. So, what made the experience is different for me?
In the hearing world, I felt the societal pressure to be something others wanted in order to be able to fit into stereotypical aspects of what a woman of worth it supposed to look and act like. It was like an anvil weighing on my shoulders, and I tried to hold it all my life while keeping a smile on my face and not showing how hurt I really was.
Losing my hearing in 2006 turned out to be a blessing. When I was fully emerged into deaf culture in 2011 Miss Deaf Texas Pageant and Ambassador Program, I realized that it was harder to guess how people wanted me to be. As a result, I had no choice but to show them who I really was. It was like the anvil finally fell off my shoulders. In my mind, there was absolutely no way that I was going to win this pageant, because I had no experience in deaf culture until I walked into the hotel the first day. At the end of the week, everyone voted to have me named as Miss Congeniality, and I was approached by several little girls (of diverse races) who thought I was really a queen. That was my “aha” moment. All this time, I was beautiful but keeping it a secret. Now, I call myself The Silent Beauty as a reminder that I need to always be true to myself and show people who I am unapologetically.
At the time, being one of a handful of women in my degree program at Texas A&M University who was not engaged during graduation, it seemed wrong to tell this guy no. Here goes that pesky societal pressure thing again. However, with so much going on in my life, in my mind and in my heart, I knew I would not make a good wife for him. The next day, I told him no. After work, I told a friend what happened, and she inquired why would I say no even after I explained why I was not ready. As if, I was supposed to accept the proposal and figure out the rest later. I just let the whole conversation go... Everyone will not understand putting yourself first.
Almost 10 years later and another 12 (give or take) declined proposals; this topic is still taboo to me. Those closest to me have asked if I even want to get married one day. Several people assumed that something’s wrong with me for not being married yet (I have been even asked if I’m lesbian). Trust me, I’ve heard it all without care if they are offending me or not. Nevertheless, I feel and truly believe that marriage is an important life decision and should not be taken lightly. Until then, I will continue to work hard, serve my community, and bring awareness to the all issues that I feel are important to making our world better. Life keeps on moving.