Make Room For The Stuttering

Being Anonymous

Posted on: May 10, 2012

Many of us who stutter choose to be anonymous. We don’t want anyone to know we stutter, so we do everything we can to keep our light from shining.

We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves, so we figure out ways to hide, stay quiet, keep in the background. And it’s not just with covert stutterers. Even people whose stutter is very obvious often try to remain anonymous when possible.

It’s safer (we think.) If we don’t get noticed, we don’t expose ourselves to negative feedback. We shield our self from being made fun of, teased or excluded.

But we also fail to get noticed positively, because we often make that choice to be anonymous.

I find it very interesting as a blogger to see how many people comment on blogs as “anonymous” or with just their initials. Especially on stuttering blogs. People who stutter often don’t want their name linked with anything related to stuttering. It seems to be fear based.

Fear of not getting a job. Fear of a girlfriend or boyfriend dumping you. Fear of not finding a girlfriend or boyfriend because you stutter.

Being anonymous also seems to give people a freedom to express themselves more honestly or critically, because they think it can’t be traced back to them.

I heard someone say last week that we should try to look at the light, not the lampshade. But it’s hard to do that when we’re anonymous.

Thoughts?

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6 Responses to "Being Anonymous"

“But we also fail to get noticed positively, because we often make that choice to be anonymous.”

Wow, this sentence really struck me; I’m involved in a group research project for my Masters degree for which each class member had to contribute a piece of writing. I bumped in to my professor in the hall and she looked at me and said, “How is it you have managed to stay silent in class for 8 months when you obviously have so much to say?!”

I managed to mumble a few half words before making a speedy exit down the next staircase. Later, on my way home I thought about what she had said and I realised that I had made a trade off from the very first day I set foot in that class – I was willing to limit my own learning experience in exchange for anonymity. I refrained from voicing my opinions and ideas – I didn’t want to be seen as stupid or weird and now I am kicking myself for missing out all because of a perceived negativity which never really existed. The crazy thing is that I know it won’t be the last time I choose anonymity, even though I know it makes no sense, I will do the exact same thing again almost without even realising it.

Hi Jo,
Thanks for visiting and responding. Funny how we can choose to do things, even bad for us, and really not be fully aware that’s what we are doing.
I understand when you say you will probably choose the exact same thing again – we gravitate to what we know, what has worked, what has kept us safe. That’s just human – to want to shield our precious self from being wounded. But then what?
It does make sense, but we give up a piece of our self in the process.
When I reclaimed myself, several years ago, I was so thankful that it was not to late. I had missed out on so much, but at least now I am engaging with the world. It is so liberating to have reclaimed my space.
Play what your professor said over and over in your head – soon you will be ready to listen and “let it in” and choose a different way!
Pam

Hey Pam,

I love your blog – I’m a long time follower and a first time commenter! I guess this post just really touched me – it spoke so clearly to me and expressed what I have been feeling so perfectly.

I’m a female stutterer – yes, another one! I have what I suppose would be called a severe stutter – the more I try to avoid words, the more letters turn against me and trip me up. The minute I open my mouth, you can tell that I stammer and there’s no hiding it – apart from never talking. So that’s the choice I took. I chose to never speak, to stay silent and let others talk for me or over me. I chose to not screw my face up, to be faced with blocks that go on for so long that the other person has forgotten what I was saying, to battle to get anything out.

And I wish that I hadn’t. I wish that I had the guts to speak in class, that I had half an ounce of the courage that you have. I wish that I could order a coffee or chat to a classmate or participate in group discussions. I know I’m not fooling anyone – my lecturers and peers know that I stutter, but still I chose to go unnoticed, to stay anonymous when I have so much to say. I wish I could ask a question when I don’t understand, that I could joke with people in the hallways, that I could pick up a phone or make a call, but I can’t.

I love your podcasts – the women you have on there are inspirational. I hope and I pray that one day I get a sliver of that courage and am able to become more like you all.

Stuttering is a journey and we all reach our particular level of acceptance in a different way. I was covert for many, many years, until I reached a tipping point where I just couldn’t stand it anymore.
For me, choosing silence was like being imprisoned, and the older I got, the more I was searching for the way out.
I appreciate that you took the time to comment. It’s scary sometimes to comment – because then you have partly admitted that you can relate and that you don’t like something you are doing.
As women, we often relegate our self to that second class rank, because of fear or simply because we feel we don’t deserve to be heard. Sharing our stories provides validation and hope.
I know for me that’s why I keep doing it.
I get so much out of hearing other people’s stories and recognizing that even in our very different worlds, we are alike.
Glad to hear you are a long-time follower of the blog. Hope you will visit and share more often. It’s OK, and in some small ways, will help you to reclaim your space.
Pam

HI

Just echoing Pam;s first line as it is mega important, EVERY stutterer is different with a different life and a different stutter.

Please don’t beat yourself up because you are your own person and always remember that you are valued, you may not feel that way because you choose not to speak because of stuttering but believe me you are.

I recommend a book that helps to recognise all the positive attributes that you have, It is called – NOW Discover your strengths by Marcus Buckingham. I read that a few years ago and some amazing things happened after that.

Keep following Pam’s blog because she is pretty cool, I had the pleasure of meeting her in person.
good things will happen for you in time, you have already taken a huge step by commenting on here.

warmest regards
Sheila

Getttem!!!!! I love to stutter

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2014.
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