“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I see sympathy in some eyes and discomfort in others when I struggle to utter the simplest of words. At times, tears well up and I want to disappear.

My stutter began in second grade, and since then, s’s and I's have been my phobia. I battle with my stutter every day: it punches my chest when I hold my breath to say a word, and I jab back, claiming my voice with every blow.

For the longest time, I tried to hide my stutter. I did not want to be perceived differently or have my capabilities questioned. I dodged eye contact in school when teachers scanned the classroom for students to read aloud. I laughed off comments like, “What, you forgot your name?” when the “T” in “Taylor” refused to pass my lips. I tried to persevere in silence but realized that by internalizing my stutter, I was hiding behind its shadow.

I realized that the determination I had to push through every raised eyebrow and expression of discontent was the same determination I needed in the moments I feared speaking up. To be vulnerable. To not let my stutter define my trajectory.

The second grader who refused to raise her hand in class—even though she knew the answer— could have never imagined she would participate in an Aldrich classroom with four times the watching eyes.

For the longest time, I silenced my voice. Now, I want to use it to amplify those of others.

— Taylor Wilson