When I was a little kid I had some troubles with speech, I stammered for a while and had a lisp.
The stammer went away, the lisp didn't.
My doctor advised us that there was no reason to correct it, "think of Ita Buttrose" he said.
So we left it alone. My mum is pretty brilliant, so she taught me that differences in me were what made me special. I had a birthmark over my eyes and forehead that used to be pointed out and compared to chickenpox. She taught me that it wasn't a bad thing, it just made up a little part of me. My lisp was exactly the same, just a little part of me. The birthmark faded, but the lisp stayed, and I was perfectly fine with that.
But then I chose the most inconvenient profession, I decided I wanted to be a speech pathologist. My lisp was suddenly front and centre, the polite avoidance of talking about it was gone. I've started speech therapy and am working hard on correcting it.
And I'm okay with that- I like to use myself as a guinea pig!
But today we had our first oral presentation, and my lisp was naturally commented on by the marker. She mentioned that she was impressed, and deemed it valiant, that I didn't avoid words with s in them. I've done acting, competitive public speaking, singing and presentations and I really couldn't care less that my s sounds a bit different.
But it got me thinking about how dreadful it is that people avoid words, avoid expressing themselves because of a little sound.
How do you relate to people when you spend the whole time dodging a sound? How do you show your potential when you limit what you contribute?
It shouldn't be an embarrassment to lisp, or stutter, or do whatever makes you "different".
When did "different" become a bad thing?
When did it become "brave" to speak unashamed with a lisp?
Don't get me wrong, I found the comment really lovely! But it's awful that it even has to be made at all.
If something makes you different, own it. Everyone knows how I talk, "that's just Bec!" is something I've heard a lot. People even forget about it after the first few times we speak, simply because it's just a little bit of me.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't get treatment for a speech impediment, but it should only be if you WANT to.
I want to be a speechie, and I want to provide my clients with the best possible example for the s sound.
If I didn't want to be a speechie,I'd probably leave it alone. And THAT'S OKAY.
My point? Don't be scared of a difference.
I twist my ring around when I'm nervous
I use a fork with my right hand once I've finished cutting
I blush easily
I have a nervous laugh
I stumble over words sometimes
I talk fast
I have a lisp
And each of those "undesirable qualities" make me, me.