When I Took Steps Toward Becoming My Own Advocate

Last week, my mom helped me reach some pretty big goals. I am so thankful for her “gentle pushes” along the way. Without both of my parents’ guidance, I don’t know where I would be. They are simply amazing!

Recently in speech therapy, my therapist and I have been discussing how important it is that I become my own advocate, especially as I approach college and job interviews. Becoming my own advocate could include something as simple as making my own appointments or calling a store to ask about a certain product I need. For my whole life, my mom has done all of these things for me. However, as I get closer to being a legal adult, I am reaching a point in my life when my mom just can’t do these things for me anymore.

In addition to the usual fear of growing up, I also sometimes fear whether I will be able to communicate what I need on my own. For the first time in my life, it will be just me and my voice. Wow… talk about scary!

With all of this in mind, I was determined to start taking mini steps towards advocacy, no matter how scary it felt at first. I started at the most basic level — picking things up for my mom at the store and returning clothes to Kohl’s. Pretty simple, right? It might sound simple, but for me, someone who stutters, simple tasks can become mountains. With my mom’s words of encouragement still on my heart, I walked slowly to the pharmacy counter to pick up a prescription for her for the first time.

I had to tell the pharmacist the name of the medicine I needed, my mom’s full name and her date of birth. The pharmacist was kind and patient, even when I really struggled to say my mom’s name. It might have been a little rocky, but we still received what we needed, and most importantly, I had finally asked for something myself. That’s all that mattered to me in that moment. What amazed me most was how little my stuttering appeared to even faze the pharmacist. For the first time, I realized how different my perspective of my stutter is from everyone else’s. An experience I feared would be so traumatizing and so embarrassing turned out beautifully. My speech hadn’t been perfect, but that was OK. I was seeing my stutter through a brand new lens.


The Stuttering Foundation provides free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering.

In less than an hour afterwards, I picked up some pictures from Meijer and returned a shirt to Kohl’s. At Meijer, I struggled quite a bit to say my last name, even more than usual. But again, the lady I spoke to was so sweet and patient that it was as if I had never even stuttered. Her response filled my heart with so much hope. “Maybe I can do this. Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.”  

My experience at Kohl’s went very well, too. Nearly everything I needed to say came out surprisingly smoothly. Needless to say, I walked out of that store with a smile on my face and praise on my heart!

By the end of the day, I had learned such a valuable lesson. Sometimes what we fear doing the most is not nearly as scary once we have the courage to try.

Follow this journey on Flawlessly Spoken.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock Images

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Stuttering

Face of a woman.

My Stutter Is Not 'Stubborn Speech'

Although I am proud and satisfied with the way I speak, I do not appreciate people misrepresenting me. Someone recently introduced me to another individual (whom I do not know) by saying, “This is Dariel, and she has stubborn speech.” I strongly felt that person’s introduction of me was an insult. I am so much [...]
Woman talking.

5 Things I Wish My Younger Self Knew About Stuttering

When I was growing up as a kid who stuttered, I felt so isolated. I didn’t know anybody else who talked like me, and no one ever talked about my stuttering. My father would yell at me when I stuttered, which made me feel scared and ashamed. When I started school, I remember my kindergarten [...]
Illustration of three women walking

The Difference Between Pity and Empathy for My Stutter

Empathy and pity… are these words synonymous, or are they worlds apart? The first definition for pity is “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortune of others.” However, empathy is differentiated from pity by a single, beautiful phrase: to understand and share. Should we feel sorry for others, or should we strive to understand and share in [...]
hand drawn chalk illustration of woman with dots anad lines coming out of her mouth

'So... What Does Stuttering Feel Like?'

Although it’s impossible to describe exactly what stuttering feels like, there are a few comparisons that closely resemble the struggle that takes place: First, try thinking of the mouth as a “gate.” Only once the tension grows strong enough to force open the gate do the words finally tumble out, much to the stutterer’s relief. As [...]