I was born with a speech impediment. Ideas flourish in my mind, but they just don’t transfer smoothly through my vocal chords like other people. Having this stuttering disability subjected me to a cloud of hopelessness for a large portion of my life. I thought my dreams would never come to fruition, that I could never feel normal or accepted. Sure, public speaking is a common fear, but I could not even speak privately; in fact, for the longest time, I did not believe I had a voice.
As far back as I can remember, I have stuttered, and expressing myself has never come as simply as it does for most people. Stuttering is developed in the voice box with something like a clasp cutting off air through the valves. I never know when a block might occur, but it feels like a damaged, teetering building about to collapse in my throat. When it comes crashing down, my body is programmed to react rashly, ranging from shutting my eyes, flailing my arms and shaking my head, to making foreign sounds and other irregular body movements. It feels like you are drowning in a lake. You can do outrageous things to try and save yourself, but I need to do outrageous things simply to keep the meaning of one sentence audible. If I am unsuccessful in breaking through, I drown: lose the essence of my sentence. When this happens I am forced to go through the whole fiasco again, while also managing the side glares and stares: the unwanted attention stuttering grants. I have always felt trapped because something so damn basic for most people is always an uphill battle for me.
Making the transition to the real world was no different. I was terrified I would fall behind and not live up to society’s standards. Throughout the first weeks I was looking for an internship, the pressure weighed on me.
by Brandon White
Computer Science Major at Southern Methodist University