On the outside I look like any other person. I have all of my fingers and toes, blonde hair, blue eyes and all that jazz. But the minute I open my mouth, people know I’m different.
I stumble over the name Alice, dodge the number six and don’t even get me started on words like thistle. Give me an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ any day, even chuck in a ‘C’ or a ‘D’ if you’re feeling generous, just keep those filthy ‘Ts’, ‘Hs’, and ‘Ss’ away from me.
Through no fault of my own, or my parents, I’ve got a speech impediment, more specifically, a lisp. For most of my life, these four letters were a forbidden part of my vocabulary; I shunned them, refused to acknowledge their existence, and would break down when anybody else did. Seriously, how dare they?! (Watch: Deb Swain on getting rid of baggage in your life. Post continues after video.)
I would open my mouth and people would constantly respond with, “What?” or “I can’t understand you.” Worst of all was when I repeated myself three times and still got a blank look. Yes, I was that person, and no, awkward doesn’t even begin to cover it.
There’s no denying my lisp was a problem, which is why I went through five-years of vigorous speech therapy. Thankfully, my words are now coherent and I can pronounce the number six without flinching. My lisp, however, never went away it’s just not as bad as it used to be – thank god.
I spent 22 of my 23 years on this planet feeling shy and insecure about the way I speak. It may sound silly, especially when there’s millions of people in the world with real problems, but my struggle was all to real.
I actually quit my first job because I couldn’t handle asking people for $6.60 (the price of a large smoothie) all day long. Looking back on it, I can’t help cringing at how vulnerable I was. Luckily for me though, a lifetime of second-guessing myself has given me a thick skin, in the long-term at least. (Post continues after gallery.)