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To 'Dear Evan Hansen,' From a Fan With a Stutter

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Dear “Dear Evan Hansen,”

I first became familiar with you in early 2017, around the same time you took the world by storm, when my friend introduced me to your song, “Waving Through a Window.” I liked the song, but didn’t give it a second thought and moved on with my life. A few months later, for whatever reason, I decided to give the song another listen. That’s when I realized your brilliance and became a fan. The more I listened to your soundtrack, the more I saw parts of myself in your music.

You see, I’m a person who stutters. Up until a few years ago, that was something I couldn’t admit to myself or others. Growing up, I heard few people who sounded like me in the media. When I did, it was typically in a negative light. Although I had seen portrayals of stuttering in television and in film, I had never heard music that put my thoughts, fears and insecurities that are rooted in stuttering into words. That changed when I listened to your soundtrack and saw parts of myself in the lyrics of “Waving Through a Window,” “Only Us” and “You Will Be Found.”

In “Waving Through a Window,” I found part of myself in the lyric:

“Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?”

Growing up, I constantly wondered: Will I be more than my stutter? Can I be successful because I stutter? Will my stutter prohibit me from accomplishing my goals? Through time and self-reflection, I’ve learned I was, am and always will be so much more than my stutter. My stutter has taught me life lessons that have made me be successful, in the way that I define success. Lastly, and a tad ironically, my stutter has given me several opportunities to accomplish goals my younger self did not know were possible.

The song “Only Us” perfectly expresses how I view relationships. Particularly, the first verses sung by Zoe and Evan.

Zoe opens the song by singing:

“I don’t need you to sell me on reasons to want you

I don’t need you to search for the proof that I should

You don’t have to convince me

You don’t have to be scared you’re not enough

‘Cause what we’ve got going is good.”

Evan responds:

“I never thought there’d be someone like you who would want me

So I give you ten thousand reasons to not let me go

But if you really see me

If you like me for me and nothing else

Well, that’s all that I’ve wanted for longer than you could possibly know.”

As someone who stutters, one of my biggest worries was, and if we are being honest, still is, can a girl see past my stutter? I know the answer is yes and the right girl will, but insecurity and doubt tell me otherwise. Zoe’s verse is the right girl, telling me my stutter is nothing and I shouldn’t worry about it in our relationship. Evan’s verse is me vocalizing how I feel about stuttering, its role in my future relationships and how being seen for me and not my stutter is exactly what I want. Words fail on how I could better describe my view on stuttering, in the context of a relationship, than those lyrics.

In the act one finale, the company sings, “You Will Be Found.” Part of the chorus perfectly describes what I wish younger me knew:

“You are not alone…”

For most of my life, I constantly wondered if I was the only person who stuttered in the entire world. I felt alone in my journey because I didn’t have anyone in my life who sounded like me. As I got older, I realized I wasn’t alone in this journey. However, it took me 22 years to meet another person who stutters. It was in October 2015 when I went to my first stuttering support group meeting. It was at this meeting where I became a part of a community, I call my “stamily” (stuttering family). It was at this meeting where I realized I was not alone and belonged to organization whose motto is fittingly, “You are not alone.” It is this organization and their motto that remind me on my good and bad days that I am not alone in this journey.

We finally met in New Orleans on November 6, 2019 and you surpassed my expectations. Thank you for your message. Thank you for putting my thoughts on stuttering into words.

Finally, thank you for reminding me, “You are you and that’s enough.”



Original photo by author

Originally published: April 21, 2020
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