I've had this sign hanging on my wall for years. Whenever I see it, my mind always goes towards my craziest ideas. Ideas like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, deep sea diving with sharks without an oxygen tank, or flying a helicopter across the country with a blindfold on.
After I exhaust myself with imagining my unrealistic ideas, I begin to think about my real ones. In my future, I want to travel the world, marry the love of my life, have or adopt children, and become a speech-language pathologist.
In some ways, my aspirations are just as scary as my imaginary ones. In particular, being a speech therapist has been become the scariest. I have had a stutter since I was three years old. I have gone to therapy off and on since then. I have had such a great experience with my speech therapists, that I want to become one myself.
But since I still stutter, how am I supposed to help others overcome their speech difficulties, if I can't do it myself?
Or will an adult take me seriously while I am assisting their child? Will an adult respect me if I am giving them advice on how to speak fluently, if I am still struggling with it myself?
I have also thought, "who's better to counsel someone on dealing with their stutter than me?" I know the ins and outs. I can feel what the person with a stutter feels when they are experiencing a block. The amount of frustration and panic or the awkwardness that a stutterer feels on a daily basis is sometimes unexplainable.
Despite this, we still carry on. We have to. We can't just stop talking!
From my many years of therapy, I have come to the realization that I must talk, even if I stutter. Although at times, I am quiet just because I don't feel like it. But sometimes, I have to force myself to speak, even though a stutter or block will appear. I have a voice, and I deserve to be heard, so why not talk? Even if it comes out a little bumpy.
As I look back on this sign now, I always smile. I smile because I am pursuing what I always thought I wouldn't be good enough to accomplish.
I am in the undergrad Speech and Hearing Program at the University of Washington. In a few years, I will be applying to grad schools. It's exhilarating and liberating to be doing something that I am used to be so scared of.
But at times, I am still scared to be going to such a big and well-accredited university. The doubts still do creep in from time to time. I still press on because I know that becoming a speech therapist is what I'm meant to be. Why else would I have a stutter?
My empathy towards others with disorders or disabilities is far greater than if I didn't have my speech difficulties. Even though I still feel like I might "fail" at school, or in my future profession, I have faith that I'm exactly where I need to be.
Now my challenge to you is, what would YOU do if YOU could not fail? It's a new year, so there are endless possibilities just waiting around the corner, all you have to do is be brave enough to try.
If you or your loved one needs some help with fluency, don't hesitate to call Circle Creek Therapy at 253.237.3405. They have a great team of speech therapists who are always willing to help!