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.

Stuttering Collaboration

I read this article about how millennials aren’t buying as many cars and houses. Down toward the end of the article, they had this interesting bit:

“Our wealth, after all, is determined not only by our own skills and talents, but by our ability to access the ideas of those around us; there’s a lot to be gained by increasing the odds that smart people might bump against each other.”

This sounded familiar… oh, right. I had read something like this before about Pixar:

The biography adds that Jobs believed that, “If a building doesn’t encourage [collaboration], you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity. So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.”

Well, well, well. Collaboration! Through random meetings and bumping into people. Networking at your own company, so to speak. Now thinking about this as someone who stutters, I think, well, that ain’t gonna work for me! For all the jobs I’ve had so far, they’ve been in more “traditional” offices. Cubicles, closed offices, no centralized meeting space. For any office meetings, they’d been with people I had been introduced to. I worked at one client site that had several buildings connected together through large hallways, but I never bothered introducing myself to people I ran into.

So would an open office work for me? If I worked in one, what would I do? Would I just “bump into people” and introduce myself or start talking to them? How terrifying is that?

I think at first I … wouldn’t. I’d just keep my head down and keep walking. I’d have to make a lot of repeated eye contact or share a hello or see them doing something that I could talk to them about (maybe comment on their bicycle or car if saw them come in).

Then I might try to tag along with someone else who’s more social. I know I’ve said I’d try to be more open about my stuttering, but jumping into a large non-stuttering crowd (unlike the NSA Conference, say) is pretty scary.

The more I think about it, it seems that what might happen is … a quick conversation. Just as desired. But it’d move along quickly. And no introductions would happen. Then a few days later, something would be added. And then the stress would continue to mount. Because short conversations probably equal little to no stuttering, but as they continue, the desire to introduce myself would get stronger — and the inevitable question from them.

See how this stuttering works? Elaborate scenarios! Then just shutting it all down.

Cycling and Stuttering

Continuing from yesterday …

She got a house number. Let’s say it was 540. Ok. I headed out the door. As I was walking over to 540, I saw a guy walking toward me. He had skinny legs. Could this be one of them?

I said hello to him and asked him if had been riding on his bike earlier. I said all of this, and I stuttered badly. But I wanted to just stop him and start talking before I could think twice about it.

I kept talking to this guy. I kept on stuttering. A lot. I was not happy with myself. But I eventually strung a few decent phrases together. He didn’t laugh at me or look at me strangely. He did mention that his boss rode. Ah, so now we’re getting warmer. He pointed in the direction of his house. That’s where I was going. I was on the right track.

I said goodbye and headed over to house 542. That’s right. I was off on the number. So I went to the wrong house (but didn’t realize it at the time.) Again, before my stutter could protest (we just stuttered so much with that last guy!) I knocked on the door. No response. Another knock, still no response.

Well, I tried. Maybe I’ll track them down eventually. But before going home, I went to the first house I knocked on. Might as well try again.

The door opened. Oh crap! What was I going to say?

I stuttered a lot. I asked if they had gone out riding — well yeah, the bike is right there. The guy was nice and invited me in. I introduced myself and stuttered while doing so. He stood there patiently. He told me about the other guy and how long they’d been riding. He didn’t acknowledge the stuttering either. Awesome! We sorted out how far and how fast and well, they’re heading out tomorrow morning, so would I like to join? Yes!

The next morning I headed out with them for a ride. They talked, I talked, I stuttered, they didn’t mind. And it was a beautiful morning. The miles ticked by quickly. And we’ve gone out a few more times since.

Being out there and stuttering is still a new concept for me. But as I get older, my patience for my stutter grows less and less. Sometimes I just want something, and I’m not going to use stuttering as an excuse.

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