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.)
Slowly, much slower than I would have liked, I started to come to terms with the fact that my voice isn’t the same as anyone else’s, and that’s okay. I get to be the person that stands out.
Thanks to a lot of strong, inspirational women filling my Facebook newsfeed (I’m talking about you, Taylor Swift) I’ve realised, screw the bullies. Screw the people who judge me. Most of all, screw the part of me that always believed their judgment.
Why is it that we always second-guess ourselves because of what we think is normal. What the hell is normal anyway? For me, having a lisp is normal, so why should other people act as if I’m some sort of freak?
They shouldn’t. I’m just as “normal” as everyone else.
I’m 23-years-old and I still have a lisp. What of it?
April Davis is a Melbourne-based writer working in magazine publishing. She is a self-confessed chocoholic and ruins every gym workout she ever does by having an extra serving of dessert. Wife to Mitch and mum to the world’s cutest cat, she hopes to one day fulfil her dream of publishing a novel.