Ruben Ramanathan will soon graduate from Purdue University in Indiana and is eyeing a career in the automotive industry. Since he was little, he has had a real passion for automobiles, and aspires to work for Honda or Mazda as a purchasing agent or buyer.
1) The biggest struggle being the only deaf person in my family is that I always had to deal with the notion that no matter how hard my family tries, they will never understand what I go through or how hard I have to work just to be “normal”. It is not intentional as they simply do not know. I grew up with very strict and rigorous parents who are more pragmatic than emotional. This meant I always had to be emotionally independent because I did not have parents who had context as to what I was going through, and they handle their emotions differently. Obviously, they were there for me 100% and I would have never got to have the amazing life I have now if it weren’t for them, but they could only understand from an outside perspective if that makes sense.
2) I think my life would be vastly easier if I was not deaf, definitely. However, I feel that being deaf gives me knowledge and insight into what it means to be a person who is disadvantaged in some way. Being deaf has taught me to be considerate towards people because everybody has some challenge, whether it is big or small. Being deaf has taught me to realize that everybody is not perfect and that everybody has their own struggles, so I feel I am more understanding and considerate due to being deaf.
3) My passion for cars stems from my childhood; when I was little, we drove six hours round-trip to neighboring Ohio to my speech therapist as she was the best we could find. We would go so early in the morning that the only vehicles on the roads were the car carriers, and as a child, I was fascinated by them. Another childhood memory that has molded my car passion is when my babysitter, sister, and I would go to the grocery store. As I was learning to speak at this time, my sister would help me pronounce the cars in the parking lot as we walked by them. I guess in a way, I do find peace in cars. As an adult, I find that just going for a drive or even doing errands that necessitates driving is my way of relaxing.
4) I do feel ready to graduate from university. It is just stressful and hectic at this time because my life after university is not set yet so it is the uncertainty that causes me stress. But I feel that my life experiences, work experiences, and my education has set me well for the outside world. I cannot wait to get out there and do my thing.
5) My life goals are simple as all I aim to do is be happy, be healthy, and be successful. I want to keep having new adventures and being positive while bringing positivity to everyone around me.
Words of Advice
The advice I will give teenagers with cochlear implants in Ireland is that you should not care what other people think. I know it is “easier said than done”, and it takes time. However, not many people realize this; caring what other people think and/or seeking validation in other people’s opinions of yourself is one of the most detrimental things you can do to yourself mentally and emotionally. I learned this the hard way but now I am so much happier with living my life the way I want to. If you are ashamed of being deaf, don’t fret as it could be so much worse. What if you are blind or physically disabled or have developmental disabilities? I say, embrace your differences and focus on being the best person you can be.
(Interview compiled by Miranda Meyers).