I'm Just Here to Learn

So, I started a Paralegal Certificate Program at UCLA this past Tuesday. I'm excited, but obviously nervous. Not sure what happened in 2018, but between working full-time, school part-time, being on the Board of Directors, and somehow maintaining a healthy life-I'm obviously intimidated.

Anyways. First day, it's Orientation. Fine, it's the usual with professionals trying to sell you a program that you've basically already bought into. I met a few new people, socialized, the usual.

But there was one thing I forgot, that I was so quickly reminded of...

"So Alyson, where are you from? It sounds like you have an accent..." a couple people said during the night.





I explained to them Apraxia, and the usual speech I give everyone: "Oh, it's a speech disorder called Apraxia, basically the part of the brain that handles my mouth movements wasn't fully developed, etc etc...but now I have what sounds like an accent..."

I did it with an amiable smile and a gentle, kind tone.

While inwardly, I wanted to rip my hair off, lie and say I'm from England, or even just respond and say, "I never knew my speech was any of your damn business."

Sadly, none of my inward thoughts are socially acceptable nor are they the healthiest way to make friends.

That night, I am consumed with the usual first-day of school jitters as any student is. The nerves that everyone gets, the intimidation of something new; I had all those same "feelings" and the last thing I would even think about is my speech.

When people ask why I have an accent or where I am from, despite this apparent rant, I am usually not bothered by it. Frankly I am used to it.

What I am bothered by, and perhaps what I can articulate as an adult, is the fact that I undergo the 'normal' tasks to find success, such as, going back to school, dating, starting a new job, etc. These 'normal' tasks carry intimidation, stresses, and can be a complete pain on their own. I must go through them though, as any person does, in order to lead a fulfilling life. However, on top of this usual pursuit though, I also am constantly reminded of an 'abnormal' quality of mine- an 'accent' while not being foreign.

Sure, there's worse things that could happen. But to be reminded of a single quality that you cannot help while trying to be the "best version of you," is obnoxious.

That is where my frustration lies. The question on its own does not bother me. But when it co-exists with other life-moments, it drives me insane.

Because what is the likelihood that an average person with a typical speech pattern would ever be asked why they speak the way they do?

Maybe I should try that at Starbucks next time, asking where the barista is from and saying she has an accent (Just an idea; I may have to test this out for my own curiosity and humor).

Anyways, I digress...

That is what can get so frustrating for those with the disorder and, perhaps, its lifelong effects.

Not only do they have to go through the 'typical' phases, such as, school, puberty, dating, etc.

But they live life, while also carrying the burden of explaining and justifying the way they talk.

A task that, let's face it, few have to do.