Make Room For The Stuttering

Another Reminder

Posted on: March 16, 2009

Today I spoke to a group of college students majoring in education and human services. The purpose of the forum was to provide these new job seekers some tips for career planning in these turbulent economic times.

There were two panels. My group was to address unique career paths and how we might wind up doing things we never imagined we would when we first started out, and find our dream job in the process. The other panel addressed balancing personal and professional priorities, in an increasingly “do more with less world”.

I was pleased to have been asked to be part of this function. I have a human service background, yet work in education, and could share how my career path zigged and zagged a bit, but still left me with a very satisfying career. I also could share about being resilient and having transferable skills, having had the dubious distinction of being fired and managing to land on my feet. People need to hear those success stories today. I am a sucess story.

Before we got started, the college’s two career administrators gave an overview of job search basics: resume writing, interview preparation, making a good impression, all that fun stuff.

The College Career Counselor then told the audience of about 75 that during interviews, it is really important to watch how many times you say “ah” and “uhm”, because you don’t want it to look like your stuttering during interviews.

Well, I am pretty sure my face turned red, my eyes widened, and I did one of those double takes. My brain was saying,”did she really say that?” Yes she had, and I am certain it was totally innocent and she meant no harm. She had no idea that someone who stutters was in the room, let alone on the panel that would be speaking next. We had never met.

My mind toyed with the idea of saying I stutter when I introduced myself and began my rehearsed spiel. But this was one of those times where I didn’t want stuttering to be the focus. That’s not why I was there. My mind was screaming – “correct her, say something, let these impressionable young people know that people can stutter and still be very successful and be invited to speak on these panels”. But I didn’t say anything – I let it go, and chose to be gracious.

I stewed inwardly for bit. I then decided to just let it go. There are plenty of people who will continue to make stupid comments about stuttering. There will be plenty of opportunities for me to educate and raise awareness. Its okay for me to choose the moments when I want to be an advocate and teach. Its not okay to beat myself up just because I didn’t say anything. It doesn’t make me any less of a stuttering advocate – it’s just a reminder that there is lots to be done. And I don’t have to do it all myself.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. 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 2017.