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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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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I'm Not Feelin' 22, But I'll Make The Most Of It

The reality of becoming another year older and the stress that it may bring.

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Birthdays are all about being the center of attention, - birthday wishes from friends and family, and celebrating another milestone in your life. People go out of their way to buy party favors, set up parties, and buy gifts just to make someone feel special on their birthday. However, some people dread their special day because of anxiety and depression. This past weekend was my 22ndbirthday, and although I'm usually excited for my birthday, this was the birthday I had been dreading.

Birthdays are inevitable. Once you reach past the age of 21, everything seems to go downhill, or at least I think so. Once I realized I was going to be 22 last Sunday, I realized the new responsibilities and norms that come with turning this age. I am a Junior at the University of Arizona, should be a senior, and most of my friends are younger than me. With most of my friends graduating this year at the age of 22, I can't help but feel bad that I will be graduating at the age of 23. After being at a large university for three years, I have felt "behind" because of my age and academic standing. Being the oldest of my friends brings a sense of anxiety out in me and pressure that I should be graduated by now.

Another issue I have with birthdays at this age is the expectation of certain milestones that I have not accomplished yet. With social media being such a large part of our society today, seeing so many different people on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posting pictures of what they are doing every second of the day, it's hard not to feel bad if you are not up to par with others lives. Some people are having babies, while others are going to medical school, where do I fit in?

Although birthdays bring some sense of negativity to me, I think that they should be celebrated in a positive light. My best friend, Colleen, knew I was feeling down about my birthday and wanted to help me feel better about turning the big 2-2. She bought balloons, silly string, and letter banners just to decorate our apartment to make me feel excited about the day. She bought me the most unique presents that only a best friend would know I would have wanted. At the end of the day, we went to my favorite restaurant and with the help of Colleen, my day had turned around.

While you may catch the birthday blues at some point in your lifetime, there are ways to change your attitude on the day. You may hear from someone from the past wishing you a happy birthday that can make you smile, or receive a gift from a family or friend that you had your eye on in the store and they knew you had to have it. Don't compare yourself to others when it comes to birthday plans, live the day how you would like and spend it with the people that matter most to you.

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