It Is Who You Are


Thomas Emery

I am proud of who I am. I have come far in my self-confidence journey. Although I am very happy with myself now, it hasn’t always been that way. Before the feelings of confidence, there were feelings of embarrassment.  


I was in 8th grade. My friends and I were sitting at our lunch table eating and talking about our day. I started to talk and then “it” happened. I tried to say chocolate and made a weird noise. All of my friends went completely quiet and stared at me. Laughter began to fill the table as I sat there with my head down in shame. I was completely embarrassed. 


As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a speech impediment. Every time I talked, I heard the difference in my voice. It bothered me that whenever I said a certain word, I would make a noticeable “chhhhhh” sound. The looks I received would be shaming and make me feel like I was different, but not in a good way. 


Starting in elementary school, I had to take speech classes. I would go to my speech instructor and practice enunciation and sounding words out in different ways. At the time I didn’t think of it, but as I got older, the jokes began. In eighth grade, people started to realize I had a speech impediment. It wasn’t hard for me at first, but high school is where everything truly began.  


The jokes about my speech impediment just kept going especially last year and sophomore year. My friends started the nickname “Aysh”  and would yell it whenever they would see me. Eventually, people I barely talked to knew about that nickname. It was very hard to feel good about myself when I knew at anytime someone could come and just tear me down with that name.  


I felt different for it. I had no idea why I made the noises I did. I had to do something about it. So, I looked up ways to stop the noises and all the websites had a common answer, braces. I knew the struggles of having braces and the maintenance they required. If it meant getting rid of my impediment though, then any struggle was worth it. 


I talked to my parents about the problems I was experiencing and that I wanted braces to combat them. They took me to the orthodontist to set up an appointment and everything was set. I was going to get braces to hopefully make a change in the way I talked. 


Now, I have had braces for about a year and a half. The difference is noticeable. The braces have helped me boost my self-confidence. The speech impediment is barely there which is the goal I was aiming for. 


Jr. Sophie Walsh also grew up with a speech impediment. Her experiences were pretty similar to mine. 


Walsh said, “So, growing up, you kind of just got used to getting made of fun or having to leave class early to go to speech lessons or speech instructor. Getting older, like in high school, I don’t care anymore, I just talk. I don’t think about it. When I meet new people and they are like ‘Woah,’ I don’t really care at all.”


I really do admire Sophie’s approach towards all the judgment she has received. She took the judgment and tossed it to the side without looking back. That is something I wish I could have done back when I was really bothered by it. 


Even with the speech impediment mostly gone, I still feel incomplete with myself. I tried to buy my way through a problem. I never understood why I had my speech impediment and I was influenced to believe I had a problem just because I wasn’t like everyone else. What I never really thought about was that its part of who I am. It’s who I am. 


Those four words are very hard for some people to accept. People are always picking apart the little things about themselves. Judgment has become a problem in many teenagers’ lives, especially school. The feeling of being judged by peers is hard to escape. No matter where someone is, there is going to be someone to judge them.


Overcoming this judgment isn’t as simple as it seems though. Being self-conscious is not easy to get over. With all the judgment around us, the feeling of not being perfect is hard to escape. Although overcoming judgment is hard to accomplish, many people have learned to deal with the judgment and accept who they are.


People feeling ashamed of little differences like these should tell others around them that enough is enough. Especially for teenagers, it’s hard to deal with the little things. It’s tough to deal with, but here is the message to anybody who is struggling with the little stuff.


It’s okay. Embrace all of your little differences and be proud of them. Everyone is unique in their own way which is amazing. These little differences allow us to be our own person and stand out. Don’t be afraid of these things because it’s the real you. It is who you are.