A few months before I moved to New York, I got into an argument with a friend of mine. I don’t remember what we argued about or how it started. But what I do remember is our throwing all rational debate out the window and resolving to hurl insults (not one of my proudest moments in life, I will admit).
Amid our many hurtful words came one insult that stung the most: “How are you even gonna function in society with a stutter?!” he said. Ouch.
Yes, the words hurt coming from my dear friend, I never knew he thought that about me and it didn’t make me feel very good. But what stung the most is that, if I am being honest with myself, he was voicing something I had thought about myself for some time.
For years, I found myself wondering just how I was going to function (not even flourish, simply function) in the world if I had trouble holding even a simple conversation.
It was a fear I dared not speak aloud. I kept that one to myself. Although I had always put on a brave face, vowing to “overcome” my stutter, I had doubts too. And here was my friend, speaking my mind.
About two years ago, I drove to New York with a car full of junk and my first day of work just one week away— my friend’s question hanging in the back of my mind.
In the months between the argument and my moving to New York, I spent a significant amount of time dwelling on his insulting question and wracking my brain to find the answer.
But as I drove to my new city, anxious about my new job and life, I pondered the question once more, finally answering it.
“How are you even gonna function in society with a stutter?!” My answer: I don’t know. I’m just going to do it.
Along with the question, I decided to put my doubts, fears and inhibitions out of my mind and live my life. Building a life after college is hard, but there are many more difficulties for a stuttering freelance journalist living in New York.
To be honest, I didn’t really decide to put those things (doubt, fear, inhibition) behind me. There was no choice. I had to build my life, and live my life despite my stutter.
Sure, I could have sat in my apartment all day, avoiding social interaction and wallowing in self pity because I don’t speak the way the rest of the world does. But bills don’t pay themselves. I have to live my life.
Sometimes the only way to see how you’re going to do something is simply just to do it.
And sometimes we surprise ourselves. In fact, most of the time we surprise ourselves. Most of the time the only thing holding us back from doing the amazing things we need/want to is the simple decision to not try.
I’m so glad I tried. Since starting this blog, I’ve spoken to so many people who are avoiding doing things they want to do in life because they stutter.
From being afraid to leave home and not applying to college to not asking for a raise at work and avoiding a crush, I’ve heard so many stories of fear playing a major role in the lives of many. And it’s okay to be afraid, but I sincerely believe you have to take leaps in the face of fear— do it afraid.
It’s been years since that petty argument with my dear friend (and we still are good friends). But I think of that question often and I am glad that he brought the suppressed concern to the forefront of my mind.
“How are you even gonna function in society with a stutter?!”
And I think to myself, “Look at me, in the face of fear, not only am I functioning, I’m flourishing.”