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When I Took Steps Toward Becoming My Own Advocate

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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.

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.

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Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 27, 2016
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