Carolina Ayala

1 – Beginning of the journey – What was the situation? Was there a need?

Ever since I began learning how to speak, I have stuttered. It is a neurological disorder with a genetic component. Being unable to speak as fast as you think, can be challenging. Having difficulty to even say your name is problematic in and of itself, but add to that trying to socialize. Often, especially in my childhood people thought I was “mentally retarded” and unworthy of their time and friendship. The early years were filled with loneliness, turmoil and therefore learning that I was better off being quiet and convincing myself to be satisfied with my one true friend, Jesus. No one could see Him but I felt him always with me, especially at recess.

2 – The reason for courage while in the journey – How does courage play a role?

When you have a disability, very often people see you for WHAT you are, not WHO you are. Some people didn’t and still don’t want to get to know me because I might take longer to get my words out. This used to be really difficult to come to terms with, but now, I understand that I do not want to be friends with people like this. They are NOT worthy of my time and attention. I am deserving. Now, I have friends—not tonnes and tonnes but a circle of support that love me for who I am. Stuttering is a part of me but NOT all of me.

My friends understand this well. These friends have shown me that I have shown a lot of courage over the years in how I respond to others who are cruel and mean. Slowly but surely, I have become more and more self confident in who I am. A part of this is being an advocate for myself because if I don’t stand up for myself, who will?

A few years ago, I had to pull out my big girl pants and deal with an issue that required courage, but would I be up to it?

I was checking my voicemail from my specialist, reminding me of my Specialist appointment the following week. After the receptionist said “bye”, she put the phone down, thinking she had hung up the phone, when she started talking to a co-worker. I heard her say “I feel sorry for Dr. Blank. He has to see Carolina soon. I feel so bad for him. You know the girl that stutters, she talks like this.” She proceeded to mimic me when I stuttered. Needless to say, I was stunned and shocked. In that moment, I prayed and had to decide, would I say something or just sit in this incredible discomfort. I knew this was wrong but would anyone care? I decided to use all the courage within me. I prayed for guidance on how best to proceed. I decided to approach the National Stuttering Association, located in NYC to send me educational resource materials to present to the medical team. I wanted this moment, to be a teachable one for everyone in the office. I was extremely nervous. I went through with it and told them what had transpired and how it had made me feel. Honestly, I thought it would go way better than it did. I choose to think that I cannot control everything, only my actions. In this instance, I did what I needed to do. I recognize that it took courage for me to speak up against a well-known medical practice.

3 – Was there change/growth in yourself? What were the fruits of your courage on others? – Describe the impact.

Every time you stand up for yourself, you become more and more courageous. And the next time it is easier to advocate for yourself. Sometimes, you second guess yourself and wish you had done more, but it’s ok to do what you feel comfortable doing. The more you realize your worth, the more you will be willing to speak up for yourself.

For a long time, I did not realize my value, so I let anyone and everyone say anything they wanted about me without retaliation. But today, after so much personal growth, love and support from family and friends, I KNOW I am WORTHY. I am worthy because I am a child of God. He has laid down the path before me.

Many times, things happen and we ask why, I choose to look at it from a teachable moment, to grow and become a better person.

Let’s talk.

We would love to hear your story.

Let’s talk Aisha Nixon