Make Room For The Stuttering

Wimping Out

Posted on: December 21, 2009

On the covert list serv , there has recently been a lively discussion about public speaking and making presentations. It seems like a lot of us have to do this regularly for our jobs. Why does it always seem that the person who stutters is the one responsible for giving presentations in the workplace?

One person wrote in to say she had a presentation coming up in the next several months and she was already anxious about it. Many people responded with advice, os simply sharing what has worked for them. Some people took the time to post who have never done so before, making this one of the most interactive threaded discussions on the group in a great while. Lurkers were feeling comfortable enough to share their stories. That’s the power of even internet self-help.

Lots of people thought that we should allow people to see our true selves, not be afraid to stutter publicly and to try a little advertising before the presentation, to reduce personal anxiety. Quite a few people allowed for the fact since we are on a covert list, talking about covert behaviors, it is very difficult to allow our stuttering out.

Liz posed a great question. I can’t say it any better than she did. I contacted her off-list and asked if she would be OK if I discussed this topic here and credit her. So here’s her thought:

I am wondering if sometimes in some circumstances it is OK to just say, “You know, I have come so far from where I started as a child, I can do so many more things than I used to be able to, but some things are just too hard. I can let go of them, and give myself a break. I don’t have to do them, to “make myself do them, right”? I realize this goes against what most people post here (on the covert list) which tends to be “I stutter, but I still do presentations, speeches, etc, and if I stutter that is OK, my audience doesn’t mind all that much. I refuse to let my stuttering define who I am. I encourage everyone else to do the same.”

Please don’t tell me I should just tackle the really really hard things….the way many of you do! I do salute you for this, by the way! — Liz

I thought this was great. I wrote back to Liz, as did several others. Basically what she is saying, and reminding us in a very matter-of-fact way is this: there are no rules with stuttering. We can choose to do what ever we feel comfortable with. Of course it is OK to choose to NOT tell an audience that we stutter and we are proud of it or are OK with it. What works for some won’t work for others.  And Liz says this beautifully. “I can let go of the hard stuff and give myself a break.” Absolutely! It is a way of being kind to ourselves, as several people note in numerous responses back to Liz.

I have been thinking of this myself for a while. Sometimes I do beat myself up, needlessly. I do not have to do everything. I don’t have to be up on a pedestal, proclaiming to anyone who will listen that I stutter and I am OK with it. Because sometimes I am not. Sometimes, as I have written here before, I still feel embarrassed and ashamed. Sometimes I find myself kicking myself for not explaining that I stutter when I have bad speech moments and someone smirks or giggles. I get down on myself for not “owning up” to my stuttering.

But I don’t have to. As Liz and others say, it is OK. We need to give ourselves a break and be kind and gentle with our Self. If we don’t, who will?  I don’t think it is “wimping out” at all to choose to do or not to do something. It is just that – a choice. As long as we are in control and making the choices we feel comfortable with, then so be it. IT IS WHAT IT IS. ( I actually found this saying embroidered on a pretty fabric and framed. I picked it up and now it is displayed in my living room. I have it in my office at work too!)

Thanks Liz for daring to pose an honest thought and asking a question that I am sure most covert stutterers have thought about at one time or another.

What do you think? Have you ever “wimped out” or “opted out” of a situation because you knew it was best to give yourself a break? Do you consider yourself a wimp when you do that?

1 Response to "Wimping Out"

Sometimes the best goal is to sit back and evaluate our goals. Not what others say is important, but what you feel is important. Some goals end up getting dropped. Others get put in the wish list. The important thing is that most (but not all) of the time, we take baby steps to reach the goals we hold dear.

As for myself, the only goal I hold dear right now is raising my family. That one isn’t getting dropped. The rest I work on sporadically. My goal for the next year is an hour a day working on my vaguer goals.

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