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When Stuttering Makes Me an Extrovert Stuck in an Introvert’s Body

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When you think of an extrovert, you may think of a person who is approachable, friendly, confident, loves to converse with others, and finds inspiration in discussing ideas within a group. Those traits describe me pretty well.

However, when I examine the traits of an introvert, they depict me as well. Introverts are often quiet and hard to get to know, and may sometimes come off as standoffish. They also prefer to be alone and tend to avoid group settings, especially with mostly strangers.

One thing comes to mind when I look at the traits of both personality types: my stutter. Although I love to be outgoing, my speech impediment constantly holds me back in numerous ways. It can be major, such as deciding not to pursue an out-of-state college for my undergrad or not applying for that new job. It can also be a minor struggle, like deciding not to compliment someone on their shoes in the grocery store or dreading making a phone call because I will have to say my name.

For the most part, it bothers me when people misunderstand me. Deep down, I am a very approachable and non-judgmental person, but do I appear to be the opposite on the outside? Does the fear of speaking to strangers make me look mean and unfriendly? This is usually the case in a social setting. Months later, once I have developed a friendship with others, they confess to me, “At first I thought you were going to be mean, before I got to know you.” Although I am glad they moved past the initial judgment, it hurts to know I seem unkind.

Although having this internal struggle with myself is difficult to manage, acting upon being an introvert versus an extrovert is up to me to decide. Am I more comfortable with taking the back seat and succumbing to my speech impediment? Or do I want to continue to stand up and speak out, and let my voice be heard? As my confidence continues to grow, so will my ability to get over the fear of being ridiculed about my stutter. They can laugh all they want, but I will continue to be an extrovert with a stutter.

Originally published: March 30, 2018
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