Is Stuttering Part Of Your Identity?
Posted July 1, 2016on:
When I think of my identity, I think of things like brown hair, blue eyes and being short. I think of the tattoos I have and the fact that my initials spell my name.
I also think of my stuttering when I think of my identity. Stuttering makes me unique. It is very much a part of my identity. People know me for my stuttering. I’ve heard people at work (a school) refer to me as, “You know, the one that stutters.”
Dictionary.com defines identity as a noun:
So stuttering is one of my qualities, a distinctive characteristic that distinguishes me from other people.
There was a time when I thought stuttering was bad and shameful and I did everything I could to try and hide that part of me, that part of my identity. But I was never truly successful hiding it. It was there, not going anywhere, like my blue eyes are always going to be blue.
This reminds me of an exercise I do when I talk to kids who don’t stutter about stuttering. When explaining what it was like to try and hide my stuttering, I have the kids experience a physical and visual exercise. I ask for a volunteer from the audience and give the child a large grapefruit. I ask her to try and hide it somewhere on her body where it’s not going to show. The audience enjoys the child trying to hide it in her clothes – in her sock, in her pocket, in the hood of her sweatshirt. No matter where she puts the grapefruit, it’s lump can still be seen on the person. Trying to hide it is fruitless! 🙂
Like trying to hide stuttering was fruitless. It didn’t work. Over the years, I’ve grown to accept all parts of my identity, both the things I like and the things I don’t like so much.
Having identity makes us human. It makes us unique. It distinguishes us from the pack. Stuttering is part of my identity and I no longer try to fight that fact.