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‘Tween 12&20: Stutterer finds relief and refuge in music

DR. WALLACE: I’m a teenage guy who is 17 years old and I have suffered being a stutterer ever since my early childhood. I won’t bore you with all of the stories I could tell you about being teased endlessly and even bullied because I can’t always get my thoughts out in a regular speaking rhythm.
But the reason I’m writing to you is that I do have a few good friends who treat me well and with respect. One of them has a father who is a really good musician. He’s been encouraging and working with his son on being a really good guitar player. So my friend recently said he’d like to start a band and he recruited three others, including me, to play with him. I’ve been learning to play the bass guitar over the past many months, and my friend’s father has given me many great tricks and pointers that I’ve already used to get much better.
However, my letter is not about the bass guitar. It’s the fact that my friend wanted me to sing some “backup harmonies” on a few songs, and I’ve found that when I sing, I don’t suffer through my usual stuttering. Our young band even wrote a song especially for me where I get to sing the “lead” vocal, and I can actually do it.
I’ve never felt better or happier than when I sing, and we even had a small show last weekend that my friend’s father set up for us. My mom and some family friends went to see us play, and it was a great night all around. I even had some kids at my school come up to me afterward and tell me that they had no idea I could sing so well. My self-esteem has been boosted, and so the reason for my letter to you is to hopefully have my experience be able to reach some other kids who stutter who might want to try to sing. I know it’s not for everyone, but if even a few of my fellow stutterer guys and girls out there were to feel better about themselves, even for a while, that would be my goal.
— My Experience Has Been Empowering, via email
My YExperience Has Been Empowering: I’ll do my part by including your empowering letter in this week’s set of our columns here. Congratulations to you and your friends on becoming good enough to play live in public at your young ages, and especially to you for being able to step up and feel really good about yourself.
I also admire that your request was simply an effort to help others who may benefit in a similar way that you have experienced. Your letter did not provide a city, a band name or anything that would allow any promotion for yourself, so in my book your intentions are indeed heartfelt. There’s of course nothing wrong with promoting a young band at all, but I find it impressive that your focus is entirely on helping others.
DR. WALLACE: I’m 13, and so is my best friend. She’s interested in a boy that I’ve had a silent crush on for a long time now. I’ve never talked to this boy so far, and to make things worse, my friend does not even know I have had this crush going on for a while now.
The other day, she told me that she liked him and she was going to try to find a way to come up with something to talk to him about. Then she said her plan would be to talk to him to say hello and see if he would talk with her for a while.
Should I say anything to my friend about my long-time crush? Or should I just stand back and watch what happens? I’m pretty confused since I really like her as a friend and I don’t want to root against her, but I kind of wished it was me that was going to be talking to him, not her. What can I do here? What do you think I should do in this situation? It feels so awkward. If he gets along with her, they might start dating, and I’d just be a girl sitting on the sidelines watching it all unfold right before my eyes.
— She’s After My Crush, via email
She’s After My Crush: You’re learning a good lesson here. You obviously have liked this boy from afar for a while now but have taken no action to try to at least interact with him just a bit over all that time.
He may or may not be of the type or character and personality who would fit well with you, or even her for that matter. But you’d never know by simply holding a crush and never even speaking to him.
I suggest that you let your friend know about your crush. She may want to proceed on her own anyway, or she might want you to be the first one to speak to him. If, for example, there might be another boy she would have at least some interest in, the two of you girls could help each other come up with ideas on how best to approach these boys and what topics you’d like to discuss with them to “break the ice” and get to know them a bit better. Once you do start having some proactive conversations with boys you find interesting, your odds of actually spending some time getting to know them better will increase. Proactivity in most cases is a superior strategy and operating method compared to inactivity.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at
Source: Morningcall

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