I Will Never Apologize For Being Different, And Neither Should You

I Will Never Apologize For Being Different, And Neither Should You

I am who I am, deal with it!
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I am DONE.

As I approach the end of my sophomore year of college, I find myself reflecting more and more on my past 20 years. And what I've found is this... people are horrendous. Yeah, I said it, and this isn't coming from some cynical college student who's mad because the barista at Coffee Hound got his order wrong. This is coming from someone who has seen the best... and often the worst of people's potential.

As someone who is attending a university, I wish I could say that my peers are evolved and are spending their time with their faces in their books and only using their phones to call their parents to tell them how much they love them, but that would be a lie. Now I'm far from a saint, but the truth of the matter is that I've seen too many people shove red solo cups in their faces and using their phones to talk shit about other people because they suddenly get a wave of bravery when they're behind a keyboard.

I have a stutter - it is a topic I've written about before and anyone who knows me will tell you that it is something that has impacted my life, both in a positive and negative way. When I was younger, I was bullied horrendously over it. Talking to girls was a lost cause for me, and there were very few teachers who would even call on me to answer a question in class. In college, I was really hoping that I would finally catch a break from this.

This was, of course, a naive thought. I've grown accustomed to the jokes people make, but there is a line that I draw, and someone happened to cross it. I had to give a speech for one of my classes, which is basically my worst nightmare come true. But I got up there, and I felt like I did well for myself. I scored a 95% on my speech, which by any standard is a good job. As I was going through my peer evaluations, I noticed that one of my classmates gave me a drastically lower score than everyone else did.

As I read through the barely literate comments, one thing stood out to me. He said, and I quote, that stutter "was distracting and unprofessional."

There are so many things I want to say to this person, however, no combination of curse words exists to describe how I feel. First of all, I am DONE apologizing for something I can't control. I can do all the breathing exercises I want, but there will always be times where it will just happen!

Second, you have no idea of what professionalism is if you had the audacity to write a comment like that. Try to live a life where you don't know what the next word is going to sound like coming out of your mouth, and then come talk to me about my "professionalism" when I'm addressing 45 people in a classroom.

Third, you can hide behind your peer evaluation, but you also get to live with the knowledge that "the kid with the stutter" debated circles around you when you tried to call me out in front of the whole class.

This article is not a manifesto on why we should reject society and become hermits, this is a statement. My name is Dimitri Sotos, I have a stutter, I have anxiety, I don't have washboard abs. What I do have is my pride, I have amazing friends and fraternity brothers who love and support me, and I have a family that is proud of me. I don't need to waste my time caring about the opinions of debate judges and teachers who told me that I need to "learn how to speak correctly", or the opinions of people who I wouldn't give the time of day to.

We are both young men, but there is a major difference between us. You condemn things that make people different, I celebrate it.

I am who I am, deal with it!

Cover Image Credit: Dimitri Sotos

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Members Of My Family Chose My Sexual Assaulter Over Me, The Victim

They wanted to sweep it under the rug, like it never happened.

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After beating myself up about my sexual assault for five years, I finally decided to tell my entire family what happened during my sophomore year of college. My cousin had sexually assaulted me when I was a freshman in high school and he had just graduated from high school. He made me feel like garbage about who I was and my body and he caused insecurity issues that took years for me to resolve.

Yet when I came out with this news that impacted my life in a HUGE way, my extended family had a horrible reaction. They wanted to sweep it under the rug like it never happened. They never wanted to talk about it.

I did want to talk about it. I wanted to stop being silent.

Being sexually assaulted took something away from me that I can never get back. He destroyed my innocence at that age. He knew better. Yet, he still did.

But I'm stronger now. I'm a survivor.

And I know which members of the family actually care about me and which ones only care about my cousin.

It is really disappointing to know that my family actively chose the side of my cousin, even after hearing what happened to me. My cousin even admitted that I was telling the truth and my extended family STILL wants to support him. They couldn't stand him before and always tried to spend as little time with him as possible. Yet, once the family found out he sexually assaulted me, they all are OBSESSED with him. It makes no sense to me. It seems like the assault made them like him MORE and like me LESS.

For example, the majority of the family still spends holidays together while my parents and I are basically the black sheep. However, is it really such a bad thing to be the black sheep in a family who actively supports abusers?

I'm incredibly lucky that my parents have been so supportive during this family collapse. They've always had my back and I'm incredibly grateful for them. They have helped me through some difficult times in college, while living quite far away.

I never anticipated that telling my family about my sexual assault would end like this. I felt like I was the one being blamed for this because I was speaking up and making them deal with it. That's total bullsh*t. I was the one dealing with this in silence for five years and I finally had the courage to speak up about it and now they want to brush it under the rug? No, thanks. I do not need people in my life who want to pretend my sexual assault didn't happen and just continue like we did before.

I was not able to simply continue living my life after my assault in the same way that I was before it happened. It changed how I thought about the world and I couldn't continue seeing him at holidays and pretend everything was fine. It wouldn't be fine.

Now, I don't have to see him at the holidays. I haven't seen him in over two years and I honestly couldn't be happier about it. Telling my family about my sexual assault might have ended differently than I anticipated, but I have zero regrets about being open about it.

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