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Kori’s story: ‘It does matter’

32-year-old Kori from Bristol is a spiritual life coach. She was born deaf into a hearing family. Kori is one of seven children, and her youngest sister has hearing loss.

Growing up she always felt different. She felt comfortable being sociable around her immediate family, but outside of her home she found socialising and making friends with hearing people difficult.  

Despite there being a hearing loss department within her mainstream school, Kori struggled, as her lessons were set up for hearing pupils. She became disengaged with her support worker, her only friend there. 

Kori often questioned why she should have to conform to make life easier for people without hearing loss. She was – and is – immensely proud of her deaf identity. She opted out of having a cochlear implant and doesn’t wear hearing aids. Instead, Kori solely uses British Sign Language. When engaging with hearing people, she lip reads or converses via emails or text messages.  

Kori discovered her purpose as a life coach and a psychic and mainly works with people within the hearing loss community. Here, she shares her story of finding herself in a hearing world.

Growing up

There was no interest from people that they wanted to learn more about being deaf. 

I remember, growing up, I struggled with communication and I felt left out. It was hard. I have a big family with six sisters. One of my sisters is also deaf. She was very different from me. She just got on with it, where I struggled. My sister would always join in and dance with my hearing family and I used to just sit there and watch. One time, my mum asked me, ‘why don’t you join in?’ and I would just say, ‘what’s the point if I can’t hear?’ 

I went to a deaf school until I was 10. I was then moved to a mainstream school with a deaf unit. At the deaf unit I felt I could be myself, but at the mainstream school I was more guarded. I felt like there was something wrong with me.  

I assumed that people would want to learn sign language to help me fit in, but that wasn’t the case. It was a little bit of a culture shock. I was treated differently. I wasn’t treated on the same level. I was just labelled as, ‘Oh she wouldn’t be able to do it’. That’s when I started to realise, ‘oh, this is the real world.’ We didn’t have enough emotional support at school. No one questioned whether we felt integrated, which I didn’t. School didn’t listen to our feelings individually. 

I remember feeling like people didn’t make the effort. Today, there is a bit more awareness, but back then it was just like, ‘oh ok, you’re deaf,’ then they’d walk off. There was no interest from people, they didn’t want to learn more about being deaf or my world. Some people really wanted to learn sign language, which obviously would make my day. But I always felt like an outsider. 
Students would say I was lucky because I have a big hearing family, like I should know how to fit in, but I felt I didn’t. 

Work and social life struggles

Kori stands in her hallway wearing her coat.
Kori debating whether to attend a social event

I felt inferior and invisible, like no one could see me and understand me.”

I continued to struggle at college, particularly my work placements I had to do. I remember feeling dark, depressed and anxious. I’d be clock watching, waiting for three o’clock to arrive. Time used to be sort of slow. I always struggled in a work environment. I found it so hard. 

During social events I would be full of anxiety, not being able to flow with conversation. I would ask friends, ‘how do I start a conversation?’ They’d tell me that I was overthinking it. I would hate approaching someone, I would feel awkward and stiff.   

My friends gave me key points of how to start a conversation and what to say. But at the event, I would always be in the corner. I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to say, who to connect with. It was too much for me. So, I’d just text my friends and say, ‘please help!’ My friends would come and introduce me to their friends. Underneath, I felt inferior and invisible, like no one could see me and understand me. I felt lonely in at any social occasion. I had a battle between wanting to attend them, but at the same time I just hated the concept of it. It was extremely overwhelming. 

While I was growing up, I was questioned about getting a cochlear implant or hearing aid. I was unsure but my gut feeling was telling me, ‘no’. My deaf identity is who I am.

Finding myself

Kori reading outdoors, smiling and looking to the distance
Kori reading outdoors, smiling and looking to the distance

I used to have so many limiting beliefs, and this negativity was imparted on me growing up: ‘’you’re deaf, you can’t do this, you can’t do that’.

After college, I started working as a teaching assistant but I struggled to fit into the hearing environment. I tried to be resilient, but I would be clock watching all the time, wanting to go home. I realised it wasn’t healthy and it impacted my mental health. It was enough. So, I quit. 

I became more introspective. I started to find my true, deaf self. I was questioning why I was here. I knew there was a reason but I needed to find it. When I quit college, I started working as a food delivery driver.  

I then met a deaf psychic, who encouraged me to start meditating and introduced me to reiki. After training, I started offering Reiki courses and life coaching. I fell in love with it and realised it was my true purpose, and I became a life coach. Now, people come to me with such limited beliefs in themselves, and I feel I’ve been able to help them, particularly those in the deaf community. I felt a whole new world opening for me. 

After I set up my business, I was successful and extremely popular. I now know the challenges I went through before were necessary for me to be able to teach this to the people I now support. 

I used to have so many limiting beliefs, and this negativity was imparted on me growing up: ‘you’re deaf, you can’t do this, you can’t do that’. That created anxiety and limited my belief in myself. I just needed to be in a community where I was empowered or encouraged. Now, I can empower and encourage others. I’ve learned to not let society get me down and to follow my intuition, my passion, and my motivation for life.

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