The big stuttering things are getting small

(Note: I haven’t forgotten about the link roundup! It haunts me every day. Also, the goal is to get 200 posts done by the end of April. I think I can make it pretty easily. The end of the month marks my one year blogging anniversary! Need to do a bunch of wrap-ups and whatever else …)

Today I want to reflect on how the big things are becoming little things. Well, how they can become little things. I said the other day that I met and talked with my cousin who stutters. Anyway, I got into the office a few days later and told someone about this. And then for whatever reason, I mentioned that like me, this cousin also stutters.

And holy crap, did I stutter like crazy on the word “stutter.” This of course always happens, and I sometimes enjoy the absurdity of this. The rest of the time it’s immensely annoying.

So I got past that, (we laughed about it) and I just began talking to someone at the office about my stuttering. And he listened. He remarked (I talk to this guy every day, several times a day) how he thought it was emotionally linked and that sometimes I seem to be ok, and sometimes I have a hard time. I set him straight on the emotional bit, and I said how it’s pretty random and thus frustrating. Also, “it’s complicated.”

What I also noticed is that our listeners tend to have a fixed attention span. You need to get your stuttering sob story out quickly (ha!) and then they’re like, well, ok, you’re not dying because of this, I can’t really relate, and I need to get back to work/thinking about lunch.

Obviously it’d be easier to connect with someone who already has a connection with someone who stutters (who’s maybe covert but noticeable to family members).

So for the second time in just a few short months at the new job, I’ve talked to coworkers about my stuttering. And it didn’t feel too weird. And I didn’t die. I didn’t lose my job. I didn’t get pulled aside by my boss who heard something from someone. Nothing. Life is going on.

Stuttering life changes

I just wanted to let everybody know that I’m going to do my best to post over the next few weeks. There are some major changes happening in my life right now — moving and taking on a new job (with the same company, though). So I’ve been busy getting those things sorted out as much as possible. I’ll also be doing a bit of travel as well.

Since I stutter and this is my life, yes, there is a stuttering aspect to all of this. But I’ll get to all that once the move is over and I’ve been in the new role for a few weeks.

What I can say is that based on some “lessons learned,” the first few weeks are going to be fraught with some fear and uncertainty. Meeting new people, learning a new process, and navigating a new city will all take me out of my comfort zone. But now I know to be patient and let time build up my confidence. I should expect that my speech is a little shaky for a while. That’s ok. I can also strongly consider advertising to some of the new people I meet to further take off the edge.

I’m telling you that you can’t do that job.

I talked the other day about jobs and stuttering. Let me go through it again, but in more detail. I’ll start with the first point today and do the others tomorrow.

What I said was that there are going to be people who will hate on your future job dreams.

So basically, here is what they’re telling you:

1. They know every single verbal interaction you will have.
2. They know that you will fail at every single one of those interactions.
3. They know every single person who has that job that you want, across the country, and around the world.
4. All those people who they know do the exact same thing in the exact same way, and you won’t be able to do that.

So again, seriously? You’re going to buy that?

You’re going to believe that an engineer working at an auto factory has the same verbal demands as an engineer working on a job site in Texas? That an IT professional at a small company is doing the same things as someone at a Fortune 500 company? Just because you’ve spent 12 years in school observing your teachers, doesn’t mean that’s the only way to teach. Every coach isn’t always yelling and explaining. Managers don’t always have to give presentations. Every lawyer isn’t arguing in court.

Nobody’s an expert on every single job in the country. Nobody knows that much about what your daily demands are going to be. So don’t let anybody tell you that they do. You have to find out for yourself. You have to reach out and do some research.

And what if you do some research and find out that the verbal demands are really tough? Well, then you have to prepare yourself. You have to do the work. How badly do you want it? If you’ve prepared yourself academically (and possibly physically) why not verbally? Do the best you can at it, and if you have to do some advertising and get help early in the job, so be it. But build up your confidence. Build up your network. Make people comfortable with your stuttering.

Remember that those haters are like the voice in your head. Every day, you have a verbal interaction. And every time, you say to yourself, I can’t do this. I will avoid doing this. I don’t have to do this. The little person in your head — the hater — he wins. But what happens when you do talk, and you do stutter, and you do succeed? You’ve proven to yourself you can win and shown the hater that he’s wrong.

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