The world is a lonely place without the ability to communicate. I discovered this truth at an early age as a result of speech delay. When other children were learning to crawl, I crawled alongside them. When other children were walking and running, I walked and even sprinted ahead of them. However, when other children started forming complete sentences and were able to express themselves, I was unable to string a coherent sentence together until the age of five. Whatever thoughts I deemed comprehensible were, to others, gibberish. The clash of my thoughts and my expressions trapped me in a growing confinement of frustration.
I have never underestimated the importance of words. The effects of my speech delay permeated throughout all areas of my life. At home, I couldn't tell my parents how my day went or even ask for the food I wanted. At school, administrators perceived my inability to speak properly as a symptom of mental impairment and assigned me to remedial classes in the special education department. I knew that something was wrong with this set-up and that I was being misunderstood, but I simply could not find the words or the confidence to convey my thoughts. I grew hopeless that the world would never understand me and sunk deeper into myself, limiting my desire to speak at all. Somewhere along the line, I had lost my voice.
In order to compensate for my speech delay, I started to use art as a channel to project my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Through art, I could express my joy with vibrant colors and my sadness with darker hues. Where words were unable to fill the gap between my thoughts and my speech, art soon became my medium for communication. By the time middle school came around, I had fully caught up with the rest of my classmates and had restored much of the confidence that I had lost growing up. Over the years, I have cherished the ability to communicate with others, perhaps more than others, and have taken advantage of the many opportunities to challenge myself further in the art of communication.