As many of you may know, October 22nd was National Stuttering Awareness Day. In enlightenment of this day I wanted to share where I was and where I am in this present time with being a person who stutters.

In this past year, I watched myself from another lense. Thanks to the growth of self-awareness I can honestly say it has been quite crazy to start realizing so many things. From the little 12-year-old girl that attended a Camp for youth who stutter and didn't want to talk, to now this 20-year-old young woman who is striving to just live like a normal human being.

As much as we tend to put on many different lenses all the time, I feel as if I am now seeing all the things I do. How things are just embedded in my brain. I tended to sometimes shy away from telling why I felt the way I did cause it felt "too deep to share" or "too scary to call it what it is."Or here is the big one "I'm so weird it won't sound right."

I stutter and it has been really hard to carry all the things it has caused me to believe, accept, and live with.

Back in my younger years, I have never been the one to tell you what I really felt. Having a stutter made me say different things cause it was easier to get out. So, as heart-wrenching as this is, I might have told you a lie about myself, what I liked, or something about my family because it was easier to speak. I didn't want to go through the horror of stuttering really bad and feel like a complete failure and have you walk away.

I lied and said something else instead just so I felt secure enough for you to stay and listen. My stutter caused me to feel angry at who I was. I was imperfect and everyone else around me was perfect. It caused me to look in the mirror and say "I am broke and I need to be fixed just so I can be liked." I felt like I needed to do something to not have this thing that in my eyes was a curse. Which caused self-disappointment.

My stutter became something that controlled every thought, every emotion, and every speaking situation I went into.

I realized it caused social anxiety when meeting new people. Whenever groups of 2 or more people were listening to me speak I would always think "they won't like me." It caused me to doubt myself in what I do. So I tended to go into the safe space in my head that says "hurry end the conversation before you stutter more and it gets weird and a lot worse." And if I kept talking I would internally be telling myself that I sounded like an idiot. (Welcome inner critic.)

It caused me to feel as if I am not worthy of saying things because who would want to be friends with the girl who can't speak like someone else's friends. Stuttering caused me to know what it was like to take the easy way out of things. It's stolen the hope I would have and caused me to expect the highest expectation of myself.

Which we all know when we set really high expectations we set ourselves up to fail.

However, in this present time, I am learning how to connect the dots. I have found an equilibrium with my stutter. Even though there are still things I need to work on. Somedays are harder than others. It is the luck to the draw. I'm learning every day that my voice is something to be proud of, it's something to be heard, and it for sure deserves to be accepted.

Let me say this loud and clear, it hasn't been easy growing up not being able to speak like everyone else. In this fast-paced world where communication is spoken at 1,000 miles a minute, it gets pretty exhausting very quickly.

And sometimes I wish you could take a step in my shoes. You have no idea what it is like to start to talk and you get a laugh, stare, or "are you okay... what's wrong with you?" I wish sometimes this world could just get it... but they don't. Living in a world where in my head I speak fluently and when I go to start a sentence it gets ripped the opportunity to sound just like everyone else.

However, it's a gift I think that has come a long way. It's a gift I'm willing to make known, even if I get laughed at (or whatever people say) to show that people are different and that's okay. I can be different, but I have the freedom to say whatever I want to. And if your first reaction is something else but patience, well then it's my job to give you a reality check. And it doesn't matter how long it takes.

-AKay