We had a bit of a toss up this month when our usual meeting spot had a fire two hours before starting time. Thankfully we were invited to the American Institute for Stuttering (AIS), where our meeting proceeded with ease. With a nice turnout of 25 people, including 2 first timers, we split into 3 groups. Here’s a synopsis of what was discussed:
Stuttering and the Mirror Effect
We had an interesting conversation about what it’s like to meet other people who stutter in the ‘real world’. Some said it brought up an instant feeling of camaraderie and increased their desire to connect, which they often did. Others vehemently disagreed. For them they felt like it was looking in a mirror reminding them of the struggle they experience as a speaker in a world that didn’t understand them. Those individuals felt that they would rather keep stuttering tucked away unless deemed necessary to deal with. This opened a conversation about how we view our stuttering. It our stuttering something shameful that we prefer to hide, or something we choose to embrace, maybe even wear proudly? Many shared the perspective that they’d prefer stuttering be looked at as another part of themselves, neither good nor bad, it just is. All agreed that we would not want our stuttering to define us, reminding us all how we all so much more than our stutters.
Navigating Stuttering and Dating
We discussed the topic of online dating, specifically whether to include anything about stuttering in a profile. Several members had contrasting views on this. Some swore by it since it could potentially act as a filter. The felt strongly that since stuttering is a part of our identity we should not go out of the way to hide it. Others thought it was unnecessary to put something so personal out there in the initial phases without having the person get to know you. We concluded there wasn’t a right or a wrong. One important takeaway we agreed on was that in a world where there is often much judgment, it is important to love ourselves and to be kind to ourselves regardless of any outcome.
Job Searching and Stuttering Stigma
One member started the night by sharing how he has recently started up the job search process again. Phone interviews have been stressful but he’s determined to to be patient and push through. From this, another member who just moved to the US from India a few months asked whether we believe employers are accepting of stuttering. He shared that growing up in India, stuttering was very stigmatized and since moving here, he has noticed that people are much more accepting and is working on being more accepting of himself. From there, we also discussed how unspoken but how common family shame can be surrounding stuttering. Whether we have family members who stutter or don’t stutter, stuttering is a hard topic to bring up. And if we don’t bring it up or do bring it up, both are okay.
Our annual National Stuttering Association Conference held July 4th weekend is coming up very soon! If you haven’t booked your hotel room and signed up for the weekend of awesomeness, now’s the time! Check out all details and make your reservations here: https://westutter.org/.
Next Meeting Reminder!
Our next meeting will be held this Monday, 7:30pm–9pm at A.R.T./New York, located at 520 Eighth Avenue, between 36th and 37th Streets. Security in the lobby will ask to take a picture and look at ID. Say you are going to the third floor, or to A.R.T./New York. Take the elevators on the left to the third floor, and then look at the whiteboard to find out which room we’re meeting in. Check out all the details here!