As someone who stutters, sometimes I start to worry. Do people understand? Do I come across as highly introverted and even uninterested because I’m so reserved most of the time? Do people know that I really do care, that I love them, that I love talking to them? All of these thoughts flood my mind whenever I’m in any kind of social situation, whether it’s with close friends and family or with less familiar acquaintances. On the toughest days, when my stutter is a relentless opponent in this battle to speak and I start retreating into silence, there are a few things that I just long to tell that person standing in front of me.
To all of the sweet people in my life…
(1) If we’re having a conversation one day and I let you do most of the talking, please know that it’s never because I’m uninterested. I LOVE talking to you. In fact, I could talk with you all day. However, the truth is that stuttering can be downright exhausting sometimes. I might just be having a really rough day with my speech; and on those especially tiring days, I would rather listen to what you have to say. But I will always try my absolute best to add something in whenever I can.
(2) If you ask me a direct question, and it seems like I’m avoiding it by giving a vague answer, please know that I’m not trying to ignore what you said. Now, this one is extremely specific, but I felt that I needed to include it because it’s a constant struggle for me. Can I be totally honest with you? This is very hard for me to share, but it’s important. Sometimes, the stutter has been so powerful and so overwhelming that I have resorted to desperate measures to just somehow answer the question, whether it makes sense or not. This might look like pretending to forget the name of the drink I ordered when a friend asks me or even “forgetting” the name of my online schooling program because the words were just too difficult to say. This might look like beating around the bush until the tension subsides enough for me to answer you. That is the honest truth. When you ask me something, it might take awhile before you get the answer to your question, but I promise I will always try.
(3) If I ever seem distant or removed from a social situation, please know that it never has anything to do with you. Even if I seem really quiet, odds are, I’m as happy as can be on the inside because I’m with you! It’s normally never because I’m sad, or anything else. It might just be that my stutter is giving me enough trouble that day that I just prefer to sit back and quietly take the world in. I have many days like that, and those days teach me so much.
(4) If I do a terrible job at initiating conversations with you, please know that I’m trying to do better. It’s never because I don’t want to talk to you…because I really do! I have always struggled with initiating conversation. For some odd reason, it’s much harder for me than just jumping into a conversation that’s already started. Asking questions is especially difficult. Through the years, I have made slow progress in this area, but I have a long way to go. I know I’ll get there someday with God’s help.
(5) Most of all, please know that I care. One of my deepest concerns is that people won’t know how much they really mean to me and how much I love them. After all, communication is the most basic aspect of human interaction. It’s how we share our hearts and lives with others. It’s how we connect as fellow human beings traveling through this same life together. Life revolves around communication. Please know that I’m thankful to have you in my life. I have been so abundantly blessed with family and friends. Sometimes, I can’t express my heart the way I want to with my words, but I can still express it with actions…And I hope and pray that I have.
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for supporting me in this journey.
Much love, Makenzie