I speak quickly. Too quickly.
I have to repeat myself a zillion times a day.
I am an expert in sentence restructuring because when I slow down too much, I lose the ability to hold the context of the thought I intended to express. Like Porky Pig, I can change the direction of my sentence in mid-syllable.
I’ve taken speech therapy classes, and have improved massively through the years, but I still have never read a poem at any event where I left before someone told me that my speed did a disservice to my work.
This is where the old-me would have something to say. I used to tell people to listen faster. To quicken their wits and get back to me.
The new-me, the one that has taken anger management classes, the one who has consciously chosen a gentler life, listens more calmly to the critique.
I take a deep breath, and I tap my finger against my thigh to the rhythm of their speech pattern. I match it, as much as possible. I tell an old story, I let them know this is old advice, and I am working on it, and I have been working on it, and it is work, and I am a work in progress.
I take a deep breath, and I remind myself that they want to understand. They are trying to listen, and it is frustrating to want to stand in my rain and be hit by my waterfall instead.
I take a deep breath and let it out. And I let that air become space between them and every other person who has said something about how I speak. I don’t want to clump them together. They are not the news station that recorded my award-winning drug awareness speech and laughed about how no one could understand it. They are not the friends of friends who impersonate me as if I were an overly-caffeinated squirrel. They are not the doctors who nod as I speak, only to later claim they could not make out my words. They are not the articles that say girls who talk slowly are sexier, not the business people who say a steady cadence is the most professional, not the automated banker who understands my accented relatives and cannot understand me.
They are not the “what”, “what”, “I’m sorry”, “Pardon?”, “Huh?” “Say again”, “I didn’t quite hear you”, “Can you say it slower”, “can you spell it”, “I only got one word”, “what”, “what”, “what” that litters my day.
They are an individual person who wants to hear my individual story.
And at the same time, I apply that new-me gentleness to myself.
I am a person who deserves to be heard.
I work hard to be better. I am not a speech disorder. My fingers are not metronomes. It is not possible for my truest voice to do a disservice to my work. It creates my work. It is my work.
I think in rapid-fire waves and intricate oceaning and my words are hulled in a way that guarantees they will survive it, in a way that guarantees they will float.
My words glide over my thoughts, a sailboat on the sea at dark, and the constellations shine above them and anyone who chooses to settle themselves inside has room to bring their own experiences. Room to stretch their legs. Room to lay back in the boat I have built and be lullaby’d by my swift and inconsistent stride.
My voice is my trademark, and every time I speak it, I am shaping it, sailing it to new horizons.
My voice is my trademark, and it has already survived oceans, and the stars always find it, and the daylight always warms it, and it is perfect.
And it goes too quickly,
and it is perfect.
And it stumbles too much,
and it is perfect.
Just the way it is.
This post inspired by Renee’s, which made me have all the feels. Please check it out and send her love: