First Timer’s Workshop

Alright, so I’m finally back home after the visit Stateside and French-countryside. I was trying to think about how to recap all of this, and I think I’ll just do it in chronological order. So, the first workshop that I attended was the First Timer’s workshop.

Just to set the scene — there’s me, the covert stutterer who doesn’t like meeting people (well, having to introduce myself at least). I don’t like conferences because I had what was probably my most embarrassing moment at one (so those chairs, lighting, carpet, large numbers of people sort of make me nervous) and I was still thinking I could just walk out on the whole deal.

Anyway, I slowly made my way into the conference room, and there weren’t a lot of people there. I saw a younger guy sitting down near the door, so I went right up to him (into the deep end!). I said hello, and he introduced himself.

He stuttered.

Since leaving high school, I have never talked to anybody in person who stuttered. Never even met anybody else who stuttered. 17 years.

Alright, so now it’s my turn. I stutter out my own introduction. I then sit down next to this guy, Mark, and we talk. We’re both stuttering. So this is what I sound like to others.

After a few minutes, more people walk in. They fill in the seats. Then I see Pam from Stuttering Rockstar and a few others get up in front of us. Pam talk to us. The others also speak. They’re all stuttering. They don’t seem to mind at all.

They tell us that the point is not for them to talk to us — we’re all here to talk to each other!

Do what now?

Maybe we could go up in front and have them read our name to the crowd? Then I don’t have to? Maybe?


Ok, now they’re done talking, and we’re all standing up, and I’m looking around nervously.

I flew all the way from Saudi for this so … I’m stuttering and introducing myself. I’m forcing myself to make some small talk. I’m trying to remember who I meet. I’m looking and staring at name tags after they introduce themselves.

I’m not going to lie — I’m targeting people who seem to be about my age. I’m interested in talking to them after this and over the next few days. Also, I’m trying to figure out how long to talk to people. I try to make some small talk and then break away to search for others. Oh, social situations. Should I just bust into a group and introduce myself? Look for others who are wandering like me? I slowly move about, bumping into people, introducing myself, saying hello, exchanging where we’re from and what we do.

I’m stuttering a lot, and it’s bothering me somewhat. I know I don’t stutter all that much, but that might be because I’m so comfortable with my current batch of friends/colleagues. But here at the conference I’m really struggling. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to making this kind of small talk? It’s been a while since I’ve answered these kinds of questions. On the one hand, I want to talk and practice, but on the other, I want to listen and find out where other people are from.

Before I know it, this very first workshop is over. What? Already? There are so many people here who I haven’t met!

I really wished it had gone on for maybe another half hour or even hour.

Now that that was done, I was feeling a little better. The uncertainty was gone. I belonged here, and these are my people! I was excited for what the remainder of the conference. And it was easy to meet people. Everybody was patient. Everybody was welcoming.


  1. Geraint Isitt says:

    Great post. I’ve only talked to one other stutterer in my life as well. It was a weird experience. I’m betting if anyone was listening to us, they would have thought it was the most awkward first date ever. Even though it wasn’t. Wasn’t a date I mean.

  2. I really enjoyed this post and hearing about how your reactions unfolded moment by moment. Insightful and honest! Look forward to reading about the continued conference saga!

%d bloggers like this: