Make Room For The Stuttering

Who Determines Inspiration?

Posted on: June 13, 2012

About a month ago, I attended a meeting of a new stuttering support group. A SLP friend, who also stutters, wanted some of the people he has been working with to see the power of support.

Steve asked me to come to the first meeting, to meet some people and to share. I felt a little awkward going, as I most likely won’t be able to attend again, as the schedule doesn’t work for me.

I shared parts of my story with the group and answered some questions.

At one point in the conversation, Steve asked me how I had reached the point where I am comfortable advertising and stuttering freely at work.

In my answer, I mentioned that sometimes it bothers me when people tell me, “Oh, you are such an inspiration.”  I feel embarrassed by that, and even a bit annoyed. Sometimes, I don’t want to be singled out like that and told that I am inspiring.

To me, I am doing exactly what everyone else is doing – talking. I don’t want a big deal made out of what everyone does everyday.

I was quite surprised when one woman, Francis, who had previously said very little, said, “Excuse me, but what if you are? Who are you to determine that? To people who stutter, you are an inspiration. You can’t control how people think of you.”

That was a moment! She was looking a little teary eyed as she said it. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said thank you. And she smiled and said, “I wish I could be as confident as you.”

There was another SLP in the group and she commented that she also agreed with Francis. She too said she thought I was inspiring for people who stutter.

I have thought about that exchange for a couple of weeks. It reminds me of a similar comment another friend shared with me some time ago. Lisa mentioned that she hates it when anyone calls her inspiring for just doing what she has to do and living life.

Interesting food for thought. What do you think? Has anyone ever referred to you as inspirational when you don’t feel you are?

9 Responses to "Who Determines Inspiration?"

Yes Pam, I have heard that before. I to do not think of myself being inspirational. I do what I have to do to make my life the way I want it. At times I remember I gave up in my early years of school. Never should of gotten out of high school. My writing skills are terrible, even thou they have improve. I still feel at times that the stuttering gets in my way. Even thou I do not stutter as much as I use to. So with all that I do not see how I could inspire people. But yet I have heard that a lot the last few years. Erin tells me to just accept it So I guess that is what we have to do. As I sit here thinking about this I realiaze people probably tell us that because of the stuttering and how hard it is for us to get out words out at times.

I think we’ve had this conversation before but I tend to feel similar to you, Pam. I’m told that I’m “brave” or “an inspiration” for speaking despite having a severe stutter. But, really, what’s my other option? To NOT speak?

As I’ve continued to be open about my stuttering, through writing and speaking, I’m learning that what inspires them isn’t that you speak with a stutter, but that you don’t let a perceived weakness stop you from doing what you want to do. Because people have become victims to a lot less. It has nothing to do with us and our stuttering, it’s about them and whatever they’re insecure about with themselves. They wish they could kick it in the face as strong as we do. I’m still not sure if that’s “inspirational” but I at least find it less offensives. Because, truthfully, I did used to get somewhat offended when someone told me how brave I was for not hiding something I’m not ashamed of.

But as with most things, their reaction to our stuttering has nothing to do with us and everything about them (and what they’re trying to hide about themselves).

Yes, we have had this conversation before. In fact, you are the Lisa I refer to in my second to last paragraph of the post! 🙂
This comment was just made to me a few weeks ago at a new group I attended, and it made me think, about a lot of things, including that you and I have spoke about this before!
See, you are inspiring. You inspired to me to write this blog post!

Ha, I missed that mention. I was already too inspired at that point and just commented. :p

This made me think. When ppl say this what exactly do they mean? Especially when they are not ppl with disabilities. Sometimes it feels like ppl are inspired not to feel guilty anymore and that’s not really the point.

Pam, I’m slowly learning to accept compliments and not be embarassed by them. I’ve been told by many people at the NSA conferences that I have changed their lives in one way or the other. A couple of people have told me that I have taught them to see the humor in stuttering, and they are grateful for that. Sometimes, a person that I have never met will come up to me at the conference and tell me that I have inspired them with my comments on some of the stuttering forums. I never thought that I would reach as many people as I have. I never used to accept compliments very well, I guess I thought they weren’t deserved. Pam, you have touched a lot of lives in the last couple of years.

Hi Bernie, thanks for taking the time to read and leave feedback. I have never received compliments well, for as you say, for a very long time, I didn’t think I was deserving. I also think I went through a period of time where I really wanted praise to bolster my self-esteem, but then didn’t know how to handle it when I did get it, as I was not used to getting positive feedback. Most of my early years, all my feedback was negative, and not just about stuttering.
It takes strength and grace to accept positive feedback and let it in, and just say thank you.
I have reminded myself that when I say something like, “oh no, I don’t, its no big deal,” it’s sort of negating the other person. Who am I to tell them they are wrong to have seen a positive?
Thanks again!

Hello there,
I would just like to say that even reading over these few comments that they changed my view on the way “the other person/people” feel when i stutter whilst talking to them, i can not say its very severe. Although I could only imagine to have such amazing confidence as some ,

If I may, could I ask some advice?
I have just completed a certificate 3 in administration for the challenge, and there is still a obstacle i need to overcome..

I am soon to be attending job interviews and i have always been the quite shy type ( mainly because as a child, i thought i would be laughed at if i tried), I need to be more confident with handling phone calls and job interviews, with both i get to worried what it may come out like, then i hit a “brick wall” and nothing comes out,

Any advice/views and opinions on this would be greatly appreciated especially from some of the best in the field , thank you so much for your time 🙂

Liam B (Aus)

Hi Liam
Welcome – I think this is the first time I have seen you here. Thanks for the comments and question.
Everybody who stutters has to find their own comfort level when it comes to interviews, phone use, public speaking, etc.
If you are worried about blocking and maybe feeling judged, perhaps you could try disclosing at the beginning of your conversation/talk and let your listener know that you stutter, that you’re OK with it, and need just an extra moment or two.
Most people are just fine when we are honest and disclose our challenges – in fact, many people respect that immensely.
If you are not used to doing this, then yes, it may be hard, even scary, but if you take baby steps and keep doing it, it will get much easier.
And remember, people want to hire you for what you know and what you were trained in.
Believe in yourself and show confidence. It will be returned.
Hope to see you again here!

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