Three life lessons sign language taught me

I was fortunate enough to discover sign language in university. My journalism major required me to take a second language course.
I fell in love with sign language because it is so rich in culture, and the community is so proud. 
Sign language has taught me more than a new way to communicate, it's taught me some life lessons along the way:

Language isn't universal, but people's willingness to connect with one another is universal.

Many people believe sign language is universal, but that is actually incorrect and years of sign language being suppressed or not embraced as a true language for the deaf caused it's historical and regional dialects.

Despite this, no matter where you are in the world or the accent you have, the deaf community openly and actively connects with each other and it's not seen as a barrier, but an opportunity to connect.

Everybody makes mistakes, and you need to laugh it off.

One time my instructor was signing with me, and I thought she was telling me about her big white van, so I started telling her about how I also drove a big white van when really, she was talking about her white wedding dress. I've never laughed so hard when I realized my grave error, and the look on her face was priceless.

You need to have a sense of humor, just like learning any new skill, you're not going to be perfect or get it right every time — embrace the unfamiliar and new.

We are all unique, but also easily influenced by others — stay true to yourself.

Often I would be chatting with other signers, and start picking up ways they expressed themselves, only to realize that we are each our own person and have our own way of communicating. 

To help ease a lot of the concern around expressing yourself the right way, our instructor told us to sign something not using the real sign they knew. He asked me to sign for dog, so I put my hands next to my head like floppy ears and started pretending to pant with my tongue out, he pointed at me and said 'now that's a dog' 

The sign for Interpret

Language is never a barrier but an opportunity to learn from one another and expand horizons.

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