Our Monday night meeting was held at our new location, Aspire Center for Health and Wellness, on West 35th street. There were 31 people in attendance, 4 Speech-Language Pathologists, 1 graduate student, and 2 first-timers. Welcome Jessica and Seth, we are so glad you joined! We split into two groups so that everyone had an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation. Here are some of the topics we discussed:
We spoke about how facing the discomfort of stuttering and being open about our stutter is more effective than relying on our ‘speech tools’ and attempting to pass as fluent. Many agreed that our tools often fail us when we need them the most. Turning toward, and easing through the discomfort, rather than running from it, empowers us and gives us the courage to face more speaking situations. One member shared how he stutters openly, and if someone looks at him disrespectfully, he addresses the person with confidence and dignity. Another person shared that he finds that maintaining eye contact, a confident body posture, and demeanor, affects how people perceive him. This got us talking about perception, and how when we communicate confidently, others perceive us that way. At the same time, we also spoke about how we don’t always have our A game on and that we have tough days. We acknowledged that there are times that we get a bad reaction, an awkward silence, or a mean look. We acknowledged that not everyone is understanding and sensitive, and sometimes it really hurts.
Someone brought up the topic of advertising, that is, letting someone know at the start of the conversation that you stutter. He said it was frightening, and at the same time, liberating. He shared how advertising changed his life, and that he currently has his dream job because of his ability to advertise. Another member shared that he likes advertising, because, in addition to releasing the tension he feels, it holds the other person responsible to react appropriately. One person shared how she wanted to advertise to her class, but knew that her classmates already knew she stuttered, so she wasn’t sure what the point was. This led us to talk about how advertising is not about the other person, but ourselves. Advertising is about owning our stutter so that we get to decide how to handle it, and not let our stutter handle us.
We also spoke about acceptance. One person said that he accepted a long time ago that he stuttered, and that he was aware of how his stuttering affected several interviews and may have cost him potential jobs. However, he said that despite his stutter, he is now at the job that he wanted, and that “fate has a way of working things out.” Another person added to this saying, sometimes stuttering really impacts you in ways you wish it didn’t, but for every loss there is a gain. One person said that he believes stuttering makes us more kind and compassionate, and another person said that it build character and makes us stronger people.
It was incredible to see all of you at the meeting this Monday! Join us again next month for more great conversations, good laughs, and support.