God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. -Genesis 1:27
i remember sitting on my bedroom floor, rubbing my fingers between the carpet fibers – the soft, short threads somehow comforting me as i listened to my parents speak. we are going to enroll you in speech therapy, i heard my mother say. i remember looking up at my dad, his weak smile obviously forced, tears brimming in his eyes, threatening to cascade at any moment. because he shared in my struggle and knew the road ahead. thus, at eight years old, i began my struggle, which would eventually morph into a beautiful relationship, with communication. i am a stutterer. daily, i fight the battle of expression. saying my name, reciting a drive-through order, answering the phone, are all menial tasks i approach from a perspective different than most.
after that initial conversation with my parents, i entered into five years of speech therapy. i learned tricks that ranged from the simple—a rubber band around the wrist will remind you to speak slowly, to extreme—talking with marbles in your mouth for a week will help structure your tongue placement. i spent hours in the evenings thinking up fiction to tell my friends about where i went for the hour every day i was in speech class. communication, then, was a hindrance—something i had to do to survive, but the very act of which was utterly humiliating. writing became my hiding place. by the time i was 12, i had filled notebook after notebook with short stories, poems and songs. if i couldn’t express myself verbally the way i wanted, i could at least write it down. i finally realized the irony of this when i won a school-wide writing contest in middle school. the soon-to-be envy of my peers, i won the coveted prize of a trip to the local theme park, as well as a limousine ride. however, along with the prize, i had to read my paper over the intercom. i bowed out of the contest, gave the prize to the runner up, and told no one of my achievement. writing, i learned, may be a fantastic form of communication, but it cannot be a crutch. i was missing out by trying to avoid interaction. life is beautifully loud, and is not meant to be lived in silence, as much as i hoped it could.
i understand now what i could never be taught. for all her efforts, my speech teacher could never explain to me what i had to learn myself—that proper communication is vital to ensuring strong relationships, scholastic achievements, and work-related ventures. i majored in english and journalism as an undergraduate, stammering my way through speeches until they became second nature. for a part-time job in college, i threw myself into a job in corporate communications, volunteering to answer phones, plan events, and conduct phone interviews. overall, i embraced what i had once feared, and what i found was life changing. no one laughed at me when i took a little longer before starting a presentation. i was not taunted at restaurants when I requested sp-sp-sp-sp spaghetti instead of spaghetti. people are inherently good and worthy of being communicated with. in addition, my speech vastly improved when the element of apprehension was removed. i start grad school this spring at johns hopkins university. i'm majoring in commuication.
dancing with dad at my wedding