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Stutter Love BY SHELLY EVANS The Tale of “Austin and Shelly Forever” sounds like your typical vaguely


romantic love story: Girl messages Boy on social media. Crushes develop. Boy and Girl eventually meet in person at church. Girl awkwardly avoids Boy at all costs. Boy asks Girl out. Girl says no. 3 times. Boy swoons. Girl finally gives in. They play Mario Kart, they eat pizza, they kiss, they fall in love, they marry, and they live happily ever after. The End.


Our love story sounds like a modern day fairy tale. Despite this, there were so many different emotions that I was feeling when we first met that I don’t think even Austin knows about.


When we first met in person, I was terrified. You see, talking to someone you find extremely attractive is already hard enough. Then, add a stutter into the mix? Yeah, game over.


Here’s the thing. By this time, we had been talking via social media, text messages etc. for a few weeks now. During this time, the fact that I stutter was never a worry. My charm and wit were at full force and my flirting was spot on (naturally *flips hair*). But when it came to speaking in person, it was a whole new ball game.


Let’s just say this. I’m awkward. And I know it. I have this cute boy standing in front of me who has never actually heard me speak. I had done a pretty good job of presenting myself as “cool” and “awesome” over the internet (as I’m sure we all have mastered), and as I thought about this, I instantly feared that I would not be enough. I feared that my real-life awkward little stuttering self would not live up to the “awesome-cool Shelly” on that computer screen.


So many questions ran through my head at that moment: Could this man love all of me? Am I ready to let him into my stuttering world? Will he accept it? Will he mock it? Will I always feel guarded?


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I didn’t know the answers to these oh-so-important questions. And that was really scary. But, do you know what his response was when he first heard me stutter?


“Wow. That is so stinking cute.” Yep. This one’s a keeper.


Everyone deserves to find love and to feel loved. But I understand that it is so hard to find love these days. Especially if you stutter. Meeting new people can cause so much anxiety, some of us refuse to even try.


But, guess what? If you withhold yourself from people forever, love is impossible. SPOILER ALERT: Cupid’s not real (neither is Santa). You are never going to be magically shot in the butt with an arrow of love (I sure hope not, at least). You can’t expect love without effort. It’s just not going to happen. Do. The. Work.


Start out with something that you are the most


comfortable with. For example, I struggle to make myself heard in groups of people. I get anxious and simply choose to stay quiet and keep to myself. However, I tend to thrive in one-on-one conversation (at least that’s what I tell myself). When getting to know people, it is vital for me to be able to talk with them on my own, just me and them. Without this, you’ll be lucky to know even one intimate detail about my life.


However, I understand that starting an in-person conversation, for some, is just out of the question depending on where they are, mentally, concerning their stutter.


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