Ask any non-teenager and they’ll likely tell you that being 13 was an incredibly difficult time. There is so much going on at that point in our lives. We are growing at a pace that seems impossibly fast. The girls are starting to develop and seem to be WAY ahead of us boys. While us boys are standing on the opposite side of the dance floor teetering between growing tall and getting mustaches and not being able to talk without the classic 13 year old boy voice cracks. Meaningless to say, things are a little socially awkward at this point in our lives.
[I would like to take a moment here to point out that my goal of writing these blogs is to inform, share, and relate, at no point do I want people to feel sorry for me. Every single person on this planet has had to battle their own personal demons, it just so happens that I am sharing mine here with all of you. Okay, that is all, please continue]
So let’s do the math here, I am 13 years old, starting high school, my height hasn’t exactly caught up with my weight at this point, my voice sounds like a squeaky toy left in the pool too long, and I am incredibly terrified to talk to girls. Talking to girls (or guys) seems like a right of passage, something we all have to sort of toughen up and just get it over with. But it wasn’t easy, and for many it still isn’t. How do you talk to someone you have a crush on? You don’t want them to know you “like” them but at the same time, if you never talk with them how will they ever know? What do you say when you finally do talk to them? Do you try and be funny? Will they find your sense of humour funny? Should you do that thing where you make fun of them to let them know you like them? I could go on for hours here, but the main point is that many of us, especially at that young of an age have no idea what to do. The biggest issue for me was that not only did I not know what to do but I also didn’t really know if I was capable of doing what I already didn’t know how to do (take as long as you need to wrap your head around that one). I feared that my stutter would be the thing that someone would focus on, that I would try and say something and wouldn’t be able to, and where would that leave me? Standing there, metaphorically stranded in the hallways, with no option other than to run away. So for the majority of my adolescence I never put myself in the position to have to run away. Sticking with what I knew and with the people I could trust made me feel slightly more comfortable speaking, but it was never easy. I only ever really started talking to new people in my later teen years, and even then, the “new” people were really just people I already knew pretty well. My comfort zone was growing but I never truly ventured outside of it.
Despite all of this, the challenges I faced, the difficulty of going years without being comfortable talking to new people, I wouldn’t change a thing. Trying to build up that courage, trying to convince myself that it would be okay, and waiting to find someone who I could feel comfortable talking to led me to having some of the best relationships a guy could ask for. So I urge you to look back on your younger years, take a good look at who your closest friends are now and think about what the foundation of the relationship is built on and what that foundation is built of. For me it is made up of trust and comfort.That foundation took longer to build than I had originally anticipated but its strength today hails from the difficult challenges leading up to now. So whatever your challenge, whatever you fear, don’t rush into it, don’t force yourself to do something. Rather, take all the time you need to do what you don’t know if you can do and maybe you’ll discover that it’s really not so bad after all.