This I Believe

Lyndsay - Evansville, Indiana
Entered on October 28, 2008

My Grandmother told me when I was six that I talked too much. At that time I felt shamefully reprimanded for telling my father, in great detail and with too much enthusiasm, what I had done that day. Later that night, while my mother was putting me through my bedtime ritual, and she said to me “No one ever talks too much as long as they have a valid point.� That in itself was enough to push me to continue “talking too much.�

The first time someone told me to “shut up,â€? and my answer was “No, I don’t have to.â€? I forget who said it to me, or where I was, but I remember thinking, “I live in the United States, and I’ve been told I can say anything anytime I like.â€? So why should I listen to others when they tell me to close my mouth? Everyone, at one time or another, has something to say, and I feel if I listen to them with the courtesy they deserve, then, when it becomes my time to say something, maybe I’ll be listened to as well.

I follow my right of freedom of speech very closely. I know that I can say what I want, when I want, wherever I wish. But I also believe that with this right come boundaries. Once in high school, I had to give a presentation to my entire class about the consequences drugs had had in my life from the front of the room. I didn’t get nervous, but I did fail to conduct myself as I should have. The phrases I used weren’t appropriate, and it ended up costing me my grade. However, when I was asked to give a similar speech in a less strict situation, I was told that a lot of the crowd took what I had to say as “advice.â€?

Even now, my friends tell me I talk enough for everyone. I take that as a compliment, because maybe I’m saying what no one else has the guts to say. Maybe I’m making a point that should have been made a long time ago. Maybe I’m telling a truth that needed to be told.

Our speech is a tool; it connects each of us in a specific way. I can ask for food, or even tell another person where to find something. I can communicate love, sadness, anger, disappointment, and many other emotions in a way that is unique to me, with its own traits and accents. It fascinates me when I look at it from all these different perspectives. If I didn’t have speech, where would I be?