Have you ever had something you couldn’t do? Something you couldn’t say? That’s me, that’s who I..... or at least who I was. Ever since I got my braces, the things I used to say, I say no more. One time during Freshman year, I said a word that I hadn’t used in a while. This word was so simple, and the fact that I couldn’t say it made me livid. It was so embarrassing. I tried, tried, and I tried again, but I couldn’t pronounce it correctly. It got to the point where my entire class made fun of me. God, I hated these braces. Eventually it got better, but until that happened, I was the butt of the joke.
One day, a couple of my friends and I were having a conversation. I don’t remember what it was about, but I went to say this word and all I got in response was a room full of laughter.
“WHAT? Can you say that again?”
“What are you talking about?” I uttered with a face of confusion. I was so lost as to what they were talking about. Thinking to myself, What are they talking about?
“Repeat your sentence,” another said.
“When you get married you should be......,” and then I knew what they were talking about. I knew my braces had changed the way I spoke, but not to the point where it was noticeable. So I said it.
I said it again just to be sure that this is what they were laughing at. As soon as the word left my lips, the room erupted again. At first it was a little funny, but then it got annoying. Every time I said something, someone else would end up asking me to say the word again.
“Can you say ‘purr’ again?”
It really got to the point where I just eliminated it from my vocabulary. Clearly that wasn’t the word I was trying to say, but everyone wouldn’t listen to that part. Not having someone to listen to me, and to have everyone laugh at me, caused me to cry. I wasn’t crying because they were laughing; it was because I felt defeated.
When I went home, I told my mom about the situation. After hearing what I had to say, she just told me that sometimes there are certain challenges people have to overcome. Everyone can’t be perfect at everything. I knew that my mom knew the struggle I was going through because she has had similar situations occur in her life.
Although I got to talk to my mom about it, I still felt some type of way because she wasn’t in my predicament. I felt lonely because I thought I did not have anyone my age to relate to. I understand that she could understand, but I wanted to not feel the way I did. I felt upset and defeated. I hate not knowing how to do something. Knowing that I couldn’t say, the word, not only affected my speech, but the way I was thinking.
After realizing that I couldn’t say the word, I got upset. “Upset” is really an understatement. Sometimes I cried, but that was in the comfort of my home. Then I started to think, I’m just like a baby, so why not learn to say it and adjust to my braces. So when I was alone I would concentrate on saying that one word.
“Purr. No! Peerrr. No.”
Sometimes I even got mad with myself and would go days without trying to practice. But I knew that if I wanted to say that word again, I would have to continue to try. After a while I got better and I felt confident about it. So I had a conversation with a friend and she decided to bring oiiup that topic.
She said,“......hahaha that’s why you can’t say.....”
Knowing that I could actually say the word without much effort, I laughed and said, “Why can’t I? Pure.”
When I said that, it shut her up and she was surprised. I was a little surprised, too. Not only that, but I was proud that I could actually do it. Knowing that I could say the word, “pure,” I felt some confidence coming back. I was strengthening my resilience to bounce back from that situation, and obstacles like that.
Now that I am a sophomore, I can relate this situation to a clip that I recently watched. The clip is titled, “American Tongues,” by James Baldwin. The clip talks about the different ways that Americans speak. James Baldwin traveled across the country and got different individuals to say certain things. When my peers heard me say the word, “pure” wrong, they didn’t realize that my braces caused an accent. The way I spoke was because of the complications that I have had. That is how the different Americans in the clip portrayed one another. They said each other was wrong, but didn't realize they were all correct, but had different ways expressing it.
Looking back on freshmen year, I feel as though the incident was a barrier that I broke through. Now that I know that it’s okay to fail, just as long as you can come back from it, makes me a better person. This has helped me for situations to come and has helped me have a better outlook on obstacles. Adjusting to my braces was not easy, but I am glad to have them. At first they got me upset because I could not say what I wanted, but later on it showed that even with the circumstances that I have, I could make the best out of it.