Being a Person Who Stutters at 23

I am a person who stutters
and in 2020 I turned 23
at the height at black lives matter
and seeing my friends who love me virtually

At the start of 23
I stayed committed to the monthly NSA chapter
yet I was longing for the stuttering convention that will never come to pass
because COVID-19 was the major factor
And when I started to doubt the journey I took at the beginning of the year
the convention was four days on zoom
and suddenly hundreds had appeared
in thumbprint squares
to speak on subjects about stuttering that no one would dare
to anyone else outside these walls
Elated from such company even while on mute
I looked forward to every day
that for once my inner conflicts filled with fluxes and flows were not insane

Just when the party was over
And I felt stronger on my stuttering feet
I stopped in defeat
that the program I was accepted into
would block my time with my stuttering crew

I laid for four months, alone
My doubts started to roll
Because I was taking classes online
making my stutter a challenge all the time
I was embarrassed when people did not know
whether it was my internet or my speech that was going slow

Interview after interview
I had no one to help me on how to navigate stuttering on zoom professionally
Did they think I was nervous
even though I disclosed?
Rejections
week after week
made me believe
that I could not be in the room where it happens
if I cannot speak

Light came at the end of the tunnel in 2021
I had my monthly meetings once more
and a marketing internship was posted on westutter.org
But I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to take on the chore
not the work
no
but to be vulnerable
to step through that next door

The internship came through and I met with three others
to start on something new
Having a group of adults that were so similar to me
helped me find a sense of belonging

I have introduced my stutter at 23 to others more than I have in my entire life
Although my confidence has grown
when I lie, I feel an unwavering sense of guilt
that I have knocked down two rungs
on everything I built.
My problems of laughter or mocking have gone away
if I say something before they have a chance to respond
nowadays, they say “that’s okay.”

I still feel like a fraud at 23
but I have so many people now in my community
My chin might not always be raised
but I continue to say it proud
to say that I stutter
and I stutter loud.

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Asia Monét

Asia Monét

A 20-something who stutters and trying to figure out how to deal with it on top of adulting shenanigans and discovery