By Isabel, 9th grade, Ocean Pines, MD

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”- Marilyn Monroe.

I have a stutter. No, I am not shy. No, I am not quiet. I am confident in my voice and my speech. As portrayed in books, television, and the media, people who have speech disfluency are depicted as being introverted, and timid. I used to conform to this stereotype. Ever since I was very young, I have always had a stutter; it has always been a part of who I am. Even from the very beginning, it was treated as something I needed to overcome, or “fix.” For a long time, I was focused on “fixing” my speech. I was terrified to participate in class, speak my mind, and make friends. But now? Now I am not afraid. I am not afraid to speak up, to do the things I love most and embrace my disfluency. By doing so, I bring out the best in myself. I am the person I wish I had known when I was a little girl. I let nothing hold me back, and that is how I hope to be a positive role model for others like me.

I love horses. I love to sing, and to play my cello. I love to make friends, and to speak my mind and share my thoughts. For so many years, I’ve allowed my stutter and what people thought hold me back from being the outgoing person I am. I allowed my stutter to make me quiet. I let jokes, laughs, and whispers stop me. When you think of celebrities and influential public speakers, no one has any kind of speech disfluency, and you are essentially taught that if you are not a fluent public speaker, you cannot make a difference. For a long time, I would tell myself that I could never follow any dream I wanted to. I could never be a public speaker, or anything that involved being outgoing. I narrowed down my options until I realized that doing this to myself would not get me anywhere. Limiting my options to what people thought of me was simply not acceptable, and no one can have a truly fulfilling life that way. Too many people have held themselves back with the frustration of not fitting in. When you let that frustration go, when you admit to yourself that you are worth being waited for, you will be so much more confident and you will love yourself for exactly who you are. Last year, I made a decision for myself. I would not let anything hold me back anymore. I was going to start high school, and I was going to make the most of it, no matter what. I am proud of the way I speak, and I always will be.

People who are like me need to know that they are not alone. They need to be shown a future. They need positive role models to look up to, and they need to be taught to accept themselves, and to know that they are special. I want people who are like my younger self to know that they can do anything they set their mind to, because they deserve patience and respect, just like everyone else. So don’t let their words fool you. Don’t let people who don’t understand you, who don’t know your dreams and your goals, keep you from being your best. Young people who stutter need role models. It is my goal to be someone to look up to. I want to do my best to be myself, so others don’t have to go through being silenced. I want to see everyone succeed. I want to see everyone speak their mind. I want to see everyone given a fair chance to be themselves without ridicule or judgement. I want to set an example for everyone who feels that they can’t be themselves. I want to give people hope, and confidence by being myself. That is how I aspire to bring out the best in others. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to be the best that they can possibly be, no strings attached.

From the Fall 2016 Newsletter