Stuttering and the Buzzfeed Post

I thought I’d go through this buzzfeed list and offer up a bit of my own commentary on it. It might be something you can share with your fluent friends. They probably didn’t understand the buzzfeed piece anyway. Oh wait, you probably didn’t send it to them since you’re covert. Admit it!

Obviously Buzzfeed isn’t the place for a meaningful look into stuttering, but at least they’ve given me some inspiration for a post.

1. Not being able to introduce yourself because you get stuck on YOUR OWN NAME.

I went to lunch this week and sat across a tiny table at Subway from someone who I didn’t know (part of a larger group). I didn’t bother introducing myself. And you know what? Neither did he! And I’m pretty sure he didn’t stutter! We made that “hello-I’m” eye contact a few times, but I never bothered to engage. Can’t win them all.

2. Having to scramble for a new word mid-sentence so you don’t have to say the one that you know will trip you up.

Sometimes I just pause, and sometimes I just start picking words … that may or may not make sense. And then who knows where we all end up.

3. Literally becoming one with your desk to avoid having to read aloud in class.

I think I became an expert in avoiding eye contact with my teachers. Of course there were also those times during spelling lessons when we’d each have to read a word from the new lesson. So I’d look down the list, and then count how many people were before me. I’d figure out what word I’d end up with and spend the next 15 minutes freaking out about how on earth I was going to pronounce it let alone spell it. And then use it in a sentence.

4. Reading a word and knowing, with your stutter-senses, that you would NEVER be able to say that out loud.

The best part is that the word (or words … or phrases … or names of people) changes every day! It’s like one of those little passcode keychain things that doctors carry around. New code every day!

5. Just stopping in the middle of a sentence and hoping that everyone thinks you’re just trying to build suspense.

When I “came out” about my stuttering on Facebook, a friend commented that she thought that was the way I talked and told jokes …

6. Perfecting your stutter-distraction strategies like the fake cough…

I’ve never done this. I’ll have to try it though. Ha!

7. …the “Oh, would you look at that!”
8. …the “What was I saying again?”

I do have a short attention span. I can be distracted easily.

9. The way people tell you they “omg NEVER noticed” you have a stutter.

Seriously, they should give out PhDs in being covert. I’d not only have the degree, but I’d be head of the department.

10. Or even weirder, when you tell them you have a stutter and someone says “no you don’t.”

Well, before I’d never really just offered up that I have a stutter.

11. Hearing someone else pause when they speak and wondering if they’re like you.
12. And feeling an instant affinity for them when you find out that, yes, they also have a stutter.

I have a pretty good time at home and work and laugh often. But I hadn’t laughed really hard and long in a while until I went to the NSA Conference. And then we exchanged stories, and boy, was that great. It was also nice being able to tell jokes … and pause … and still be able to get to the punchline.

13. Wanting to punch someone in their stupid face for completing your sentence for you.

I’ve sort of come to terms with this … but I was wondering the other day — what do fluent people think when I finish their sentences? I actually find myself doing this fairly often because they’re searching for the right word or phrase. But remember, I’m in an environment with non-native English speakers.

14. Especially when they complete your sentence with the wrong word and you’re like, “wtf?”

I find if you keep on stuttering and keep getting louder about it, they won’t interrupt …

15. Or when you’re reading out loud (eek) and someone prompts you with the word you’re stuck on.

Can’t remember this happening … thank goodness.

16. Getting pissed at how fakey and cartoonish TV characters with stutters can be.

My kids watch a lot of cartoons. Including Porky Pig. (By the way, there’s a new version of Looney Tunes, and boy is it ever funny. I mean, Daffy is just off the wall hilarious.) On the one hand, I am annoyed by Porky and how he’s probably set us all back. On the other, I’m sort of inspired because he does just plow on through. Although he does substitute often …

17. Not being able to ask an important question in class because your larynx is just not up to the task right now.

I was in a meeting today, and I had a point to ask. I spoke up. Take that, stuttering! But yeah, mostly in school I just sat back and kept my mouth shut. And read. A lot.

18. Picking what to order at a restaurant based on what you’ll be able to pronounce.

Absolutely. But this gets harder when you have kids, because you have to order for them as well. And you can’t just lie to your kids and say no, they don’t have chicken nuggets.

19. Wanting to buy a cake for whoever made texting the default communication of the modern world.

What else do I love about the modern world? Not having to talk to anybody when I buy gas. Online banking. E-mails. Messengering programs. Did I mention e-mails?

20. And straight up not making friends with people who “prefer to use the phone.”

I had a boss say to me once, “this can’t be solved over e-mails. Pick up the phone and call him. NOW! I did. And it hurt. But hey, he was right. Problem got solved in a hurry. Maybe these fluent people know something after all …

21. Because picking up the phone and not being able to answer is the most awkward thing ever.

I don’t have this problem. I have the problem of the other party picking up the phone. And then not being able to say anything. Can I e-mail you instead?

22. Leaving a stuttery voicemail with lots of pauses and cringing the whole time.

I think this changed a while back. Now you can choose to save the voicemail or try again, right? Or how about I just send you a text. Or an e-mail. Or not call.

23. Requiring a whole different level of preparation for a job interview.

I don’t know if voice exercises work or not. I don’t know if sitting in your car during a three-hour drive to the interview talking to yourself, asking yourself questions out loud, answering them, changing the words, finding the right words, and asking more stuff really works or not. But it worked for me. That and being way over prepared.

24. Getting low grades for class presentations even though you know everything about the topic.

I had an English teacher tell me once that my speech on a book was “honest.” I’m guessing it’s because my voice was strained and I was mostly out of breath the whole time.

25. And of course, people making fun of your stutter before they realize that you’re not faking it.

I don’t think I’ve ever had someone say something really negative about my stutter. But I have had people just laugh at me before. Which was … pretty damn hurtful.

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