Make Room For The Stuttering

Doing It Anyway

Posted on: June 4, 2010

I got through the awards ceremony at school on Wednesday night, as I knew I would. It went well, considering the people element and human nature. What do I mean?

I had instructed the students who were to participate in the induction ceremony to arrive by 4:15, so we could rehearse. I figured most would arrive by 4:30. When 5 of the 15 were a half-hour late, I had to kick in with Plan B. Re-assign some of the student roles.

This would be our only rehearsal, as the students were coming from three different programs with different schedules. By show time, the last two eased in and took their seats. I asked the students to fill-in the late comers.

I went up on stage to the podium, took a deep breath, smiled and opened the proceedings. As soon as I began speaking the scripted lines, I noticed I was stuttering more than usual. My heart was beating a little faster, but I just kept breathing and moved forward. I stuttered on the first sound of many of the scripted words, which I could not substitute, and had some stuttered moments during multisyllabic words.

The candle lighting ceremony went well, considering we only had 5 minutes practice. Only one student fumbled with the switch on the fake candles. (Not allowed to use flames in a public building).

As I called the names of each student to come and get their certificates, I stuttered on most of the names. I could see out of the corner of my eye one student begin to rise and then sit again until I had finished his whole name.

Towards the end, after three students had each read a piece on courage, achievement and not limiting themselves (which I had thoughtfully selected and conned them into doing),  I decided to be bold and make a comment about my stuttering. I started by saying that it takes courage to come up on stage and speak to a large audience.

And that I was proud of the student’s courage. And that I was showing courage myself, by not allowing stuttering to hold me back from what I needed to do.

After the ceremony, our Assistant Superintendent came up to me and congratulated me on a job well done. He commented, “you were pretty nervous, huh?” I said “no, I was just stuttering.” He looked surprised and said he never noticed that I stutter.

Then he asked a couple of questions, like had I done any work on my speech. And then he commented, “Oh, now that we are talking about it, I pick it up”. I think my face flushed at that. He concluded with telling me that he was glad that I do not let stuttering holding me back.

The following morning he sent me this note via email: “Just a quick note to again say ‘Fantastic Job’ last evening. I was very impressed with your advance preparation and presentation throughout the Induction Ceremony. We are lucky to have you working here!

The school psychologist came to me as well and said that she was impressed how I chose to mention my stuttering and tie it into the student’s theme of courage. She said it made a lot of sense to be upfront, put it out there and not leave anyone wondering.

This was the first time I had occasion to mention stuttering with these two people. It made me feel good!

With risk comes growth, right? And more and more acceptance.

4 Responses to "Doing It Anyway"

ALL RIGHT Pam!!! Job Well done! It IS ok to stutter.

Thanks so much for sharing this Pam. You really handled the situation with grace. You must have felt so good afterwards. More people need to hear these stories.
I have a few women who you may want to have on your podcast. Email me offline if you are interested!! Lori

Wow- great mile stone in an adventurous journey..
Congrats on starting the podcasts..
I am trying and hoping that Indian women too will come out in the open..

I think there is this misconception that stuttering and nervousness are linked. Being nervous doesn’t make us stutter, having a stutter may often lead us to fear situations and therefore be seen as nervous or hesitant. Well done for being bold and making that statement!

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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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