Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, and the founder of Living With Hearing Loss, a blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
What do I do best?
I have a unique talent for getting things done. I enjoy working on multiple projects at once, with varying deadlines and work products needed. I find it energizing to work efficiently and effectively to achieve goals and create output, particularly in written form. That is why I love my work as a hearing health advocate and writer.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Honesty is my most important quality. To me, telling the truth demonstrates respect for the other person and allows decisions to be made based on the best information possible. Through the years I have learned that honesty does not need to be harsh or mean. Feedback can be communicated in many different ways. Knowing your audience allows you to choose the best method to make sure the person understands your message while also seeing the high regard you have for them as a person.
What are my aspirations?
My goal is to diminish the stigma surrounding hearing loss to allow people to accept their hearing issues, seek treatment and live full and enriching lives as a result. As a child, I witnessed my father’s hearing loss destroy his life. He was ashamed of it and kept it a secret from friends and family. It was an unmentionable making it almost impossible for him to get the help he needed to stay connected to others. When I first noticed my hearing loss in graduate school, I reacted the same way, but once I had children I decided the cycle of shame needed to end. I accepted my hearing loss and began writing about my experiences living with hearing loss. Check out my weekly blog at LivingWithHearingLoss.com to read more about how I live my best life despite hearing loss. I hope to consolidate these posts into a book one day.
My Biggest Success?
My biggest success is stopping the cycle of hearing loss stigma in my family. My hearing loss is genetic so my children may develop it in young adulthood, just as I did. I certainly hope their hearing remains typical, but should they have problems, they will be much better equipped than I was to take on this challenge with an open mind and the knowledge of how to advocate for the assistance they need.
My Most Challenging Moment?
My most challenging moment was realizing that my hearing loss had progressed to a point where I would need to wear hearing aids all the time. I was in my 30s and not eager to accept what I then viewed as a life sentence of isolation and fear. As a child, I watched my father cut ties with family and friends because he could not hear but was too embarrassed to ask for help. He hid his hearing loss at all costs. I am not sure why.
When I discovered my hearing loss, I assumed I would need to do the same. I remember watching my father laugh at jokes he didn’t hear and nod along at conversations without participating. When I saw my children observing the same behavior in me, I knew it was time for a change. I had to come out of my hearing loss closet. So I did.
I began telling people about my hearing issues, sharing my tips for coping on LivingWithHearingLoss.com and volunteering on the boards of leading hearing organizations. Being honest about my hearing problems was difficult, but was also the absolute right decision.
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I try to work towards the optimal solution within current constraints rather than achieving perfection. And when I reach that, move on to the next task. Sometimes it is not so easy.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I am inspired every day by my beautiful children who challenge me to be my best self and live my best life.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite travel destination is St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Two-thirds national park, the island has numerous hiking trails and extraordinary beaches that remain untouched by development. The friendly people, beautiful weather and delicious restaurants all combine for an unforgettable vacation destination. My family and I visit as often as we can.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My favorite products are my hearing aids. I wear two. They help me hear the people I love and allow me to engage with the world. I would be lost without them.
My Current Passions?
In addition to hearing advocacy, I am passionate about yoga. My favorite style of yoga is the original hot yoga, known as Bikram yoga. Classes are 90 minutes long and take place in a heated room. The vigorous physical workout helps purge my body of stress and toxins, while the meditative part of class strengthens my mental discipline, allowing me to stay calm in the face of adversity. My yoga practice keeps me healthy and better equipped to handle the inevitable frustrations and challenges of living with hearing loss.