We were back at our usual venue for our February meeting. About 30 of us came out, including a few brave first-timers and some SLP students who were there to see what it is that we do at these meetings. We started off with our intros, which are of course optional, and then split into three smaller groups. Below are a few topics that were discussed during the meeting. Also, a special thank you to Chani for helping co-facilitate one of the groups.
One of the groups started with a question from a first timer to the group about whether people have found that their stuttering has changed as they have gotten older. Many members expressed that their feelings about their stuttering had more to do with where they were on their stuttering journey than a specific age or decade of their lives. Some members shared that stuttering was more challenging for them as children growing up because often their teachers in school did not understand stuttering and would often call on them to read aloud or present in front of the class. Another difficult time period for being a PWS that was expressed was adolescence because of the social pressures to fit in. It can be challenging to handle stuttering at any stage of life, but as many members shared, our stuttering journeys are unique in that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can change the way that you think and feel about your stuttering and not let it hold you back.
One topic that we discussed in one of the groups was advertising when applying or interviewing for jobs/school. One member shared that he was applying for graduate school and was contemplating disclosing stuttering on the application. Many people in the group agreed that this was a personal decision and that advertising most of the time is for yourself and not for the listener. By advertising, most of us do not magically become more fluent. For many of us, it is a significant mindset shift since it actively goes against years and years of conditioned shame and trauma. From there, we delved deeper into this trauma, and how so many of us believe that stuttering has and often still holds us back from our true potential – especially in a society in which we are often commoditized. We agreed that we need to find ways to grieve this shame and idea of fluency in order to move forward, and it is groups like this where we can allow ourselves the space to learn how to do so.
In another group, the topic came up with introducing ourselves at work, specifically when a new hire shows up at the office. One member expressed how he likes to make people feel welcome and comfortable and values introductions, but sometimes puts them off. The group expressed how it is important to keep a few things in mind when processing this sort of behavior. Being too hard on yourself, like if you do not always go up to someone to introduce yourself and then feel bad about it, probably will not be a super helpful feeling to carry around with you. It is also important to try to distinguish what your current behavior actually is. Are you not going up to introduce yourself during the first day of each new hire, or do you actually avoid all introductions at all costs – or are you somewhere in the middle? The point is, sometimes we focus on just the one side of things, many time the negatives, and we do not give enough credit to ourselves when it is due.
See you all soon!
Stavro and Manhattan Chapter Co-Leaders