What’s not stuttering

When I was growing up, one of the hardest things to come to terms with regarding my stutter was watching fluent people just initiate random conversations. I think back to things like car shows or garage sales or other places where you’re walking among strangers. And as you walk and see something that interests you, you find the person who’s probably the owner, and just blurt out your comment.

Sees a right-hand-drive BMW

“Wow, that’s nice, how’d you get that car in this country?”

No thanks.

My approach was to look at something, appreciate it, and then if someone came up to me, I’d engage. Lightly.

But just putting it out there? Are you nuts? I’d stutter! Of course I would. And in the off chance that I didn’t, I’d say something in that exact moment that someone else would — and then be faced with having to repeat myself. Or maybe I’d not say something loudly enough. Then be asked to repeat myself. Or maybe the stranger would hear me, would answer back, and then introduce themselves. Say my name to a stranger? Nope!

So the world of pure spontaneous utterances was always off limits to me. Oh, but how I wished I could. I wanted to engage. I wanted to talk, I wanted to find out more. But the cost was too high.

When I lived in Saudi, I had a friend who would talk to every stranger he saw. I’m only slightly exaggerating. Yes, it was his personality (as a business owner) but I was always in awe of how easy it was for him. How he just …made small talk wherever he went.

I’ve been getting better at this though. The amount of time it takes to get the nerve up to say something is getting shorter for sure.

With all that said, I’ve been thinking about getting a new car. A Jeep. This has been fun to research, of course. And my Instagram-browsing has lead me down the path of larger wheels and lift kits. A few days ago I was driving home, with my windows down, the sunroof open, and I saw a pair of black lifted Jeeps up ahead.

I liked the way that they looked. Larger wheels and tires. Lifted. Enjoying all the things that Jeep pushes in their marketing.

They stopped at the light, going straight. I was going left. I stopped alongside one of them, shoved my stuttering aside, leaned way over (I have a very low car) and shouted out —

“Are those thhhhhrty ffffffffives, or thirty sevens?”

“They’re thirty seven.”

“And is that a two inch lift, or-“

“It’s a three inch.”

“Thanks!”

So yes, I physically stuttered a little. But the huge wins were:

  1. Asking exactly what I wanted to
  2. Being completely spontaneous

I’m going to continue to focus on my wins, not losses. And by adding them here, I hope you can all change your mindset as well to think about how over many, many months you can also slowly go from being afraid to fearlessly putting yourself out there.

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