December 30, 2006

Is a speech impediment an impediment?

So, I have a lisp. I've had it ever since I could talk. I was stuck in speech therapy for a couple of years until I realized I could just fake out the therapist, and *poof* no more speech therapy.

I don't know what my particular lisp is called, but visually, it's a cross between Ione Skye's (remember her from "Say Anything"?) and Adam Arkin's.

Some kids made fun of me when I was in school, but I never cared enough to want to change it. I was a theater major in college, and I actually had a professor tell me that I wouldn't make it as an actor with my lisp. I guess he wasn't much of a tv- or movie-watcher, because here is a pretty impressive list of famous people with speech impediments, including many well-known actors. And here's a list of notable people with lisps. When I see an actor with a lisp, I do a secret happy dance, because - clearly - there's one more performer whose speech impediment has not been an impediment.

When it's really cold out, or I've had too much to drink, the lisp really jumps out there. Some words are harder than others to say (ooooh, don't make me say "Chichester"). Otherwise, it's not even that noticeable.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that we all have insecurities. As speakers or performers, we're all concerned with our image, to some degree. Some don't like how their voices sound. Some wish they were taller, or shorter, or thinner. Some of us have speech impediments.

But my "impediment" has never impeded my progress as a speaker. If anything, it's a unique quirk that makes me stand out. It makes me memorable. It doesn't get in the way of my message or my meaning, but it's a part of me that is different from other people. I don't feel a need to change it, squash it or hide it.

I've talked a lot lately about uniqueness, and what makes each of us stand out. The things that you consider "flaws" may not be noticeable to most people. And even if they are noticeable, they are most likely only considered flaws by YOU.

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