Sometimes it’s very hard to speak out

DREAMS Some work hard to change their characteristics.

One of the biggest compliments someone could ever give me would be “you have a beautiful voice.”

No one has ever told me that though, and I doubt anyone ever will unless it’s in the form of fake sympathy.

I have a lisp. It’s as annoying to deal with, as you can imagine. I’ll admit I hate it sometimes. I would do almost anything just to be able to talk like a “normal” person, to not feel different.

After years of private speech therapy classes and public speaking classes, I’m well on my way to reaching that goal, but I know I’m not there yet because people still occasionally bring it up around me.

Transforming a person’s voice from annoying to sexy is not a quick or easy process. It’s something I have to work at all day, every day, probably for the rest of my life, and I’m working very hard.

When you have something like that constantly eating at you already and someone dares to bring it up, it’s very difficult to be polite about it, but I always suck it up. I know that handling it gracefully and maturely — rather than freaking out — will always make me look better.

When you’ve been bullied about something for as long as you can remember, it’s very difficult to be confident. I get offended even when people tell my lisp is cute because I have trouble believing it, plus I hate that it’s still noticeable.

When some random guy at the bar last weekend told my lisp was hot, I immediately assumed he had been drinking way too many Jager Bombs. It seems like such an odd thing for a guy to be turned on by; I couldn’t help but give him that deer-in-the-headlights facial expression.

I always assume people are only saying things like that to be polite, to provide fake sympathy. It’s like telling someone their wheelchair is hot or their Down syndrome is sexy.

My vocal impairment has oozed its way into quite a few areas of my life. It’s the main reason why I got into writing — I could get my voice out there without having to literally get my voice out there. If I weren’t writing about how un-sexy I think my voice sounds, no one reading this column would ever know, unless they know me personally.

I don’t want to have to constantly plan my life around avoiding talking, and I have gotten much better about it. Speaking up in a lecture class no longer freaks me out. I have no problem interviewing strangers while covering news stories. If I smile and remind myself of how far I’ve come, it usually ends up working out.

Until someone sincerely tells me I have a beautiful voice though, without mentioning my lisp, I won’t feel like I’ve reached my goal of sounding “normal.” I hate fake sympathy.

Jaye Millspaugh is the Multimedia editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].