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What Smiling Means to Me as a Person Who Stutters

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Have you ever heard the saying, “Smiling is a universal language”? As someone who sometimes struggles with verbal language, this thought has profound, deep meaning to me. When my stuttering first surfaced, I struggled tremendously with learning how to cope and worried about how I would ever communicate effectively to others. Back then, I thought the spoken word was the only real way I could connect with the people I loved. Since those difficult years, my eyes have been opened to whole new worlds of communication; and learning how to navigate each one has been a thrilling journey. In an article last year, I shared how stuttering has completely changed my perspective on love. Well today, I would like to focus on one particular aspect of love in action.

Smiling is much more than just something we do. Your smile is your message to the world. It is literally, in my personal opinion, a visible expression of love. Think about it for a moment… doesn’t it make your day when someone smiles at you? Doesn’t it just warm your heart and make you feel loved? With all this in mind, imagine how much you can communicate to someone with a simple smile.

For me, a smile has often been my only link to someone when my words have had to stay in my heart, at least for a little while — especially when my stuttering flares up to the point that it is exhausting to speak, a smile may be all I can give. In these moments, I hope and pray it at least lets others know I am still engaged and genuinely interested in them. It is astounding how much power, beauty and meaning stuttering can give to simple things, like the basic human ability to smile. Getting a smile from someone is unusually special to me because I have learned from personal experience how much of our hearts are often reflected in our smiles. After all, my own smiles sometimes contain hundreds of unsaid words I intended to say to someone.

There are certain situations — such as group conversations when I physically cannot keep up with everyone else — in which I find myself searching for some other way to express myself. I am learning more every day about how much we can communicate without ever saying a word. If it weren’t for my stuttering, I doubt I would ever think about any of these things. Stuttering is so much more than just a communication disorder. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realize it is an irreplaceable part of who I am. Without it, life would completely changeIt has played an absolutely crucial role in how I think and how I see the world.

Smiling is so beautiful and powerful, especially for someone who stutters. Can I challenge you to go out into the world and smile today? It might change someone’s day or even someone’s life.

Your smile — your unique, one-of-a-kind smile — might just speak louder than a thousand words to someone.

Getty image by sylv1rob1

Originally published: May 9, 2018
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