Chris Morton has been deaf since the age of 5. As a teenager, he was told by an audiologist that he was still losing his hearing, but he didn't believe them. Now he's grown up and shares unique insights with us while reflecting on his journey, his goals and his identity.



CHRIS MORTON: I was asked, "Where are you from?" "Why are you loud?" "You're not American, right?" And I realized, after about 8-9 years, it's actually happening. When I was 14 or 15 years old, and went to an audiologist and I told them I've been deaf since I was 5, and they said, according to my graph, I'm still losing my hearing and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I didn't believe them, I was young. But now, being asked questions like that, I realize. Life changing moments...

When will my hearing be gone? Nobody knows... But every damn day, when I wake up, I make sure I can hear I touch something, I hum in my voice or I speak to myself. Or I even tap my bed - just tap, so I can hear it. The best part is sometimes I'm awoke by the sound of a two-year-old kid upstairs running around. His feet touching the hardwood floor, Sometimes I am even awoke by the sound of my 8-year-old brother's voice, asking questions, all curious and everything. Sometimes I'm awoke by the sound of my mom's beautiful voice. And sometimes I'm awoke by the voice of a man who impacted my life for the greater good, my own dad.

You ask me why I am loud? I'll tell you this - I am loud because every damn day it's like a clock in my head ticking and ticking and ticking and ticking and TICKING. Just waiting to pull the last bit of hearing, the last bit of voice left in me. I'm fighting to get that, I'm fighting to keep that because I want to speak not with only my friends, not only my family, but people I love, whether it's my dog or whether it's people I never actually met, or whether it's people who are famous who impacted my life to become a motivational speaker. I have a goal to motivate. A goal to be a motivational speaker. And I need this. And this. And these. And without it, I'm not sure how it can happen.

And I am loud because the only time people actually listen is when I'm loud. I am loud because the only damn time people will actually focus is when I'm loud. I am loud because I need... People to listen, I feel like people... Want to hear what I have to say. So when you ask me why I am loud now you know. The voice part? When I was 18, I won a scholarship for a good essay and they requested me to do a presentation with an audience. I agreed.

A week before that, my mom asked me, "Chris, do you realize any change in your voice?" And I said, "No." She said, "Your voice changed." I didn't believe it. 24 hours after that, it was presentation time I asked my mom to record me because I had to know. 24 hours after my presentation, I sat in my room and closed my door and listened and watched and watched and watched and watched and WATCHED over and over listening to the voice and realizing even though it was the first time watching it, and I had to watch it again and again to actually believe that my voice was changing, my voice was cracked my voice is different and I'll never get that back I don't even know what I used to sound like. For the first time in 18 years, I actually listened to my own voice and just sitting there thinking one day it's going to be gone and my hearing gone and my inability to speak...

So I'm loud because I feel like people want to know what I have to say. So yes, I am loud and I don't even realize it.

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