Why have I decided to travel around the world?
My name is Ashley Chanel Derrington. Yes, I was named after Coco Chanel. I’m sure that will give you some insight into the types of people my parents are. I’m originally from the suburbs of Atlanta, GA, and upon graduating from the University of Georgia, I moved across the country to the City of Angels where I lived for 5 years. I came to LA to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Me and the other million dreamers in Hollywood. I spent 4.5 years working in the industry and absolutely loved it!
But let’s back up a few steps before we address where I’m at now. I was born with a severe hearing loss in both ears. It wasn’t until I was two years old that I was fitted for hearing aids. I guess my two year old self knew that I would be a bulldawg because I picked red hearing aids and until very recently, I’ve always worn red hearing aids. In my younger years, I was never treated any differently from my hearing friends and family. As I got older, however, I started to become more aware of the fact that I was not like everyone else, and I absolutely hated how people who were ‘different’ were treated. I refused to be another laughingstock, so I hid behind my hearing loss. I rarely acknowledged it and fought to excel in everything I did, academics, athletics and so on. I graduated high school as a presidential athletic scholar, went to UGA on scholarship and graduated in 3.5 years Summa Cum Laude. To me, that’s what I thought was expected of me to be accepted as a functioning member of society.
While I fought to be as ‘normal’ as possible in many ways, I’ve always fought against outward appearance stereotypes. Most people would never think that a goody-two-shoes girl who cried when she got detention once in high school would today walk around sporting multiple tattoos and piercings and get a thrill from bungee jumping off a bridge, right? Well, that’s me. I fought these stereotypes because it was important for me to show that who we are on the outside has nothing to do with who we are on the inside. I wanted to identify with that in some way before I could completely reveal a big part of why I am the way that I am.
All my life, I’ve felt the need to prove to everyone else that I (and people like me) am not clueless just because I may not have caught every spoken word. It wasn’t until I joined the US Deaf Women’s National Soccer Team when I realized I have nothing to prove to anyone. All of the girls on this team have incredible stories and have defied the odds of societal expectations. It had me thinking, as a society, how have we gotten to a point of being so quick to judge and assume? When did ‘rules’ get set and why? Everyone has their own battle.
I say all of this so you understand where I’m at today. After working for an incredible woman who accepted me for me, didn’t pity me for my hearing loss and supported my decision to try out for the team, I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to start doing the things I wanted to do and not what ‘the world’ expects me to do.
So… I quit my 9-5 job and spent 6 months traveling off and on. This opportunity was life-changing. When one of your senses is hindered a bit, the others heighten. For me, I’m incredibly visual. I love studying people, their interactions and cultures. After my latest trip in 2017, I realized that I still had so much left to explore in the world, which is what led me to apply and participate in a travel remote work program and create a passion project! The passion project goes something like this…
We all have insecurities…
And just because society has built stereotypes on our insecurities, that does not mean they should inhibit us from doing the things we want to do. This project was built from the idea that everyone has his or her insecurities, and instead of hiding behind them, we should embrace them and seek to fulfill our bucket list dreams.
You know, that cliche actions speak louder than words thing?! For me, I’ve always wanted to travel the world, and my hearing loss is something I’ve failed to embrace, so I’m combining the two. Over the next year or so, I’ll be gallivanting around the world as part of a remote work program and pushing myself to learn more about the deaf culture in my own country and in the countries that I visit. Through this self-recognition and research, my hope is to inspire others to live out their full potential, create more awareness around the deaf and hard of hearing community, and learn a few travel tips!