You probably know the quote “I wear my heart on my sleeve”, but I prefer to think of it as I wear my heart on my tongue. Baffled as you may be by that, let me explain. As hard as it is to say it, it is even harder to admit to it. It’s always been the proverbial elephant in the room; presently there but not publicly acknowledged. I know you still must be trying to put the pieces together and make sense of what I am trying to explain, I think it’s best to finally rip the cliché bandage off and to put it simply, I stutter. Probably not the big climax most were expecting but that’s my elephant.
Stuttering is having blocks or repetition while speaking. It affects one percent of the population and four times as many males as females stutter. The cause is unknown but believed to have some correlation with genetics, neurological development and environmental impacts. There is no cure for stuttering but rather a variety of therapy options that can lead to fluent speech. Many stutterers find support groups helpful in their journey and in the UAE there is “Stutter With A Smile” which is a newly created group that focuses on raising awareness and providing support to fellow stutterers.
Stuttering may not sound so grim and it shouldn’t be, but for those who do stutter it comes with a life long psychological impact. Imagine not being able to fluently say what you want to at any given time. It’s frustrating to say the least.
Stuttering for me as a child gave me a green light, the ultimate excuse to have almost anything go in my favor. Just mentioning my stuttering and I avoided every single presentation and being asked to answer questions. Looking back I regret not having the opportunity to practice public speaking though the irony of it all is if I were placed back in that situation again I would hands down choose avoidance over publicly speaking.
I’m in my mid 20s now and currently evaluating my stuttering. I’m truly flabbergasted at what I am finding out about myself. A therapist told me to tell people that I stutter and in my head I was in such denial that I thought the idea was ludicrous. Somehow for the past two decades I had concocted up this theory of why own up to something that some people may or may not notice, that it was better to leave them guessing in their heads about what was wrong with me. I can’t begin to fathom what they were thinking nor would I want to.
So my first step, similar to overcoming any problem is admitting to it. Therefore, I will write it again…I stutter.
I am at a stage in my life where I’m searching for a job. My worst fear as a stutterer is interviews. An interview to me is the three headed monster antagonist in every children’s book, almost impossible to defeat but with courage and brevity it is somehow overcome. My only problem is maintaining courage to translate into fluent speech.
Life comes with challenges and this is mine. Everyday life presents itself with its variations of speaking hurdles and my emotions play a great role in how fluent I am able to speak hence having my heart on my tongue.
If I had a dollar for every time I have gotten a weird face as I was trying to speak, or had my sentenced completed for me or just wished I could find a magical blanket to disappear into because I couldn’t get a word out, I’d probably be sitting on my own sandy beach rather than stressing over what syllables make me stutter. Though life is what it is and the hurdles make you who you are.