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.