School struggles

Qais Hussain: close-up

What can it feel like to stammer at school? Qais Hussain sent in this powerful short story about a young girl struggling at school and how she constantly feels besieged by her teachers.

Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Nobody can hear me. 

Bustling corridors, cluttered classrooms, head down, dodging bullies, crying inside, stomach lurches; wait, another day, another ordeal, six hours will drag by, tick tock, tick tock! 

Bellowing silence. 

The wind howls as the students arrive through the gate, hustling and bustling down the corridor. Friends are greeting each other with a hug or a playful punch whilst I wait patiently, too scared to say a word, too scared to look, too scared to breath. 

English class: 

The fear sits on me like a pillow over my mouth and nose. Enough air gets through allowing my body to keep functioning, but it’s crippling all the same. I walk, I talk, I smile like I always did, but my insides are dying slowly. Should I tell her? 

There are days when it feels like a pain I can’t conquer.

I didn’t tell her – how could I? She wouldn’t understand how it feels to be belittled, undermined and demeaned every day, just for the way you speak. So, as I smile, as I do all the things the teacher tells me to do, my mind searches for a way out of the excruciating pain and fear I feel. I am petrified – justifiably so – yet it is I who is told to amend my ways. 

My brain isn’t as brave as I want it to be, for in this room there are so many others and there’s this little grating voice saying, 'I’m not good enough to be here.' I wonder if they can see me, the real me – yes, the one who stutters. Perhaps we’re all the same, just some of us show our emotions a bit more. 

My mother says it’s just social anxiety, but there are days when it feels like a pain I can’t conquer. I don’t want to go back tomorrow, because there’s no chance of change, no hope of catching a smile from one other soul who feels the way I do. 

Fear can only hold me back, stop me reaching my dreams.

Every day in school my palms are sweaty and the adrenaline cursing through my system shuts down my ability to think logically. I want to run or beat the living daylights out of myself, either would do. I think my heart will explode. 

If I tell her about my stammer, she will hate me like all the others. All the others. All of them with their judging lives, their comfortable and easy lives. Why don’t you ever learn to see what you are seeing? So, Miss, here is your grade: SEE ME. 

I AM PROUD OF MY STAMMER!

Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Yes, I will make myself heard! 

My advice: 

When anxiety and fear grab me by the tongue and dry my mouth, I don’t panic anymore. I’ve been there before, I know the feeling, and knowing it makes it less scary – I am all the stronger for my battle scars.

So instead of letting it take me down, I tell myself everything will be alright. I remind myself that I am a good person, I do good things, I have a heart full of love, that there is a world full of good people. Fear can only hold me back, stop me reaching my dreams. I can’t say it will never come again, but each victory gets a little easier. 

By Qais Hussain (@Qaishussain14 on Twitter)

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