Make Room For The Stuttering

If Not Now, When?

Posted on: January 18, 2010

My friend Loretta gave a heartfelt, inspiring speech at our Toastmaster’s club meeting last Tuesday. It was her milestone 10th speech, earning her CC (Competent Communicator) designation. I remember when Loretta first joined our club about a year ago. We hit it off right away.

She shared being terrified of public speaking, despite having a very visible job in Human Resources.  When she gave her first ice breaker speech, I felt for her, as her anxiety reminded me of how I felt when I gave my first speech.

I remember feeling scared, inadequate, vulnerable and embarrassed. My first speech was the first time I would acknowledge my stuttering to a group, and I was choosing a group of strangers at Toastmasters. But doing it gave me the courage and confidence to keep going, and continue talking.

Loretta had asked me almost immediately if I would mentor her. I felt so honored that she thought enough of me to want me to help her through the first couple months of  Toastmasters and help her prepare for the first 3 speeches. To myself, I thought, “oh wow, I might not be good enough. Does she really want someone who stutters to be her mentor? Will I do a good enough job?”

I used to have self-defeating nergative self-talk with myself all the time. Thankfully, I don’t do that much any more!

Back to her speech! Loretta challenged everyone to look at their lives, and see if we are really living the life we want  to live. If we are not, then we need to ask ourselves why. What is standing in the way? What is limiting us from being who we want to be?

All of us hung on every word as Loretta spoke. She chose the right words, emphasized with tone at the right times, and really had us thinking. She offered several tips for what we could do if we realize that we are “settling”. Things like unbundling, recognizing excuses, and fear of failure.

Have you ever settled? Have you ever thought that you don’t deserve more or better, so what you have is good enough?

All of us have a right to  live the life we want to lead. It is up to us to honestly look at what we want and what stands in the way. Her four simple words in her title resounded throughout her talk – “If Not Now, When?”

Settling! Sometimes we don’t pursue our dream job, for fear that we are not good enough, or if we stutter, no one would want us. Sometimes we fear pursuing the relationship we want, being afraid to tell a person how we really feel, or again, because of some imperfection, we may not be wanted. Fear of rejection often has us settling for far less than we really want.

Loretta’s question was really asking: “What are we waiting for?” We can’t let life pass us by. I have been doing that. I don’t want to anymore. What about you?

2 Responses to "If Not Now, When?"

I’ve got it pretty good right now, so the question is a bit different for me. Much of “settling” for me is choosing between equally good choices: Less fancy toy now or skimpier retirement.

The other thing that might be “settling” is how hard I drive myself to maintain my home and my brain. Like most people, I’d like a tidier home. Am I settling for less because I’m lazy, or is my balance suitable? Likewise with my brain. Am I keeping it active enough? Am I settling for a fairly restricted life because I’m not motivated enough to get out there, or am I balanced? There’s a chance to tell at a school next month. I enjoyed it last year, but have no interest at all this year. Cyclical, or decline?

All I can say is WOW!!!

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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