Why I Speak Up, Even With A Stutter
“My name is Zara.”
One might think that for me, these words are easy to say.
But that’s not the reality for people with a stutter. Oftentimes, saying my own name is a task that requires effort just to vocalize.
When I stutter, no air goes in, no air comes out. It feels like I’m choking on my own words, sputtering to get something out.
Growing up with a stutter at a young and impressionable age, I was insecure about it. I just wanted others to hear me out and take what I had to say seriously, regardless of the way I spoke.
The first time I even found out that I had a speech problem was in third grade, when a friend brought up to me that other people had been talking about it.
The worst part about having a stutter is I can’t blame people for their reactions to it. They make jokes because they don’t know I can’t help the way I speak. Other times, they’ll finish my sentences because they genuinely don’t know I’m still trying to speak, but the words just won’t come out. I’ve even had people give me a hard pat on the back, as if that would propel the words out of my mouth.
My insecurity didn’t fade away in middle school, and I was still fearful to talk to others because of the looks or comments about my speech.
My first day of sixth grade, I got a surprise visit from the school speech pathologist, at my parents request. But my parents never told me about it.
I went home and confronted my mom about sending me to speech therapy without even telling me. I started crying, I was horrified that my classmates saw me get pulled out of class to get help. I didn’t want to be seen as needing aid or support.
During those years, I was just annoyed that everyone treated it like it was a big problem that I had to solve every time I spoke. I stutter, so what?
As I went into high school, my confidence went up, but my ability to speak didn’t. My stutter still prevented me from saying what I wanted to say, but it wasn’t because of fear anymore. It was just pure physiology.
When I would speak, no sound would come out. Or I could only just repeat the first sound of the word I was trying to say no matter how hard I tried to say the whole thing.
Because of this, I’ve learned that I do have to work on my speech in order to better communicate efficiently with others. It’s just how it is.
But I want to do it. I want to talk to people, to voice my opinions and ideas, to just be like everyone else.
As an 18 year old who still stutters today, I don’t see my speech impediment just up and going away any time soon. But, stutter or not, I do have a voice, and I am able to say things with it.
And for me, that’s enough.
I’ve found my voice despite my stutter, and I can tell you speech is a superpower. Don’t take it for granted.
Zara Tola, senior, is copy editor for the Marquette Messenger. Zara can be seen frequently attending Board of Education meetings and community events for...