I just re-watched “Meet the Fockers” movie, and what caught my eye was how positive Greg’s father Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) was about his son’s achievements which looked more like “efforts.” He’s proud of his son’s 5th place, 9th place, 14th place; he’s proud that his son participated at all. It seems that he can find positive in everything. No matter what kind of mood you're in it makes you smile.
Can we be positive about stuttering, about ourselves stuttering and our life in general?
Maybe we can just be positive, but I need reasons for that. And I know this concept that we don't need reasons to being some way, there’s no need to “deserve” it, we don't need any logic to it, all we need to do is just be present and feel the positive. Yes, I get it, but… sometimes they help.
If you also sometimes need reasons - here they are.
A lot of “normal” people don’t have a dream. Seriously. Just living the day in and day out.
I believe that every challenge is a gift. And you can tell. When you go hiking, go for a surf, a journey, a public talk, any new challenge - go through strong emotions and always remember that experience.
Compare it to just doing nothing, watching a commercial eating popcorn. You’ll never remember it. No emotions. No spark in that moment. I mean it’s also great, there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s no electricity in it. And we tend to remember that electricity. That’s what make up the most vivid moments of our life.
So stuttering is a gift, and I read it as it is a puzzle, a path of getting through it. Especially all the fears and limitations that stuttering brings. We can have a dream of being free from those limitations. There’s nothing wrong with this dream.
Having a dream bears a burden. The burden of the inner question - have I done anything to get on the path to my dream? And did I do all I can do to get there? And for most people, it’s a hard question. It’s easier to give up and say “it’s impossible” and find proof for that.
There are different stuttering strategies or approaches towards stuttering that we can take. But many of us have this particular dream. I would say, most of us, but let's stick to “many.” It doesn't matter really; many is enough.
Getting free from limitations that stuttering brings - it's not just a dream, but a dream to change ourselves. That’s huge. Not that many people have a dream to change something in themselves.
Usual dreams people have are in the “outside” - get and keep something (a girl, boy, car, house, fortune, beauty, popularity, etc.)
Personal change is not for people who are “inferior” or “limited” or “not good enough.” It’s for people who are strong enough for a change. Who are strong enough to be open for new.
Stuttering makes most of us humble. It appears to be a weakness, but is it?
Humanity has always been looking for role models to follow. While we all like James Bond and the like, being kind and good is what we tend to like more in a big picture than being strong and powerful.
Humility may come from weakness, but it’s still a merit. Love and compassion are coming from the place where deep feelings live, not from the surface where naked strength and power reside.
Many kingdoms rose and fell, but spiritual gems last forever. And what is more powerful than love?
Many famous people, many remarkable people in different areas of life, many truly great people are PWS (people who stutter), and that's for a cause.
Here are just some of them:
Actors: Marilyn Monroe, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis
Politicians and orators: Demosthenes, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill
Athletes: Ben Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tiger Woods
Writers: Aesop, Miguel de Cervantes, Lewis Carroll
Scientists: Aristotle, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton
Singers: Elvis Presley, Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran
My theory is that one reaction to some shortage is accepting it and giving in to the circumstances. Another reaction is to compensate or overcome a shortage by putting extra effort.
When you’re pretty much comfortable with life conditions, there’s no need to be bold. You can just be “normal” which equals “average.” To the contrary, when you have some sort of a defect or difference, you have an option, a privilege to go really bold. It’s innate to you. Steve Job’s “stay hungry, stay foolish” is the same thought flow.
Romeo and Juliet are associated with true love and strong feelings. We don’t know how would they get along if they married and lived a couple of decades together. But what we know about them is they were burning like embers because their desire was unsatisfied.
A person who stutters has this all the time. So every small win over stuttering or despite stuttering brings waves of joy and makes us happy. It seems impossible to get there so once you get to freedom from stuttering and you actually feel it - it's like learning to fly. Magic, scary and breathtaking.
You instantly feel the closeness that you rarely find with other people.
In other circumstances, you wouldn’t talk or even look at this other person. But stuttering in a moment makes you friends having a common theme so deep that you can talk for ages though seeing each other for the first time.
National Stuttering Association conferences is a great place to meet live other people who stutter, communicate, engage in different activities and make friends. You can also browse for stuttering Facebook groups and keep up with other people who stutter there.
Some might say that we would have more friends without stuttering. Well, we don't know. But what we know for sure is that this particular cause is including you in a team of humble, compassionate, delicate and responsive people that “normal” people can only be dreaming of.
What is this? Why am feeling this? Why it’s not going away? Why it’s coming back? How should I react? Is there anything special about me? How will it affect my career and personal life?
We have a lot of questions. Probably many more questions than an average “normal” person has.
A pearl can grow only in a closed shell. And I like this analogy with a shell holding a pearl because our soul is naturally protected from the outside world. Not every shell holds a pearl, though, but that is an opportunity to develop our inner world. Many people just don’t know what to do alone when they stay with their “self.”
Through self-analysis and introspection, we can become more self-aware. This is a luxury of introverts. And my observation that an introvert can become more outgoing as a matter of practice, while extroverted people get more inward-looking mostly under some negative circumstances, thus often missing this precious perspective altogether.
People who stutter experience fear all the time. Thinking forward about what is to come, drawing pictures of them speaking in their imagination. Thinking in hindsight shivering of the negative emotions they remember.
The ability to manage fear, which means facing fear when something is important enough, is crucial in achieving success no matter how you define it.
People who stutter have a strong incentive to face fear. It maybe counterintuitive (the natural reaction is to go inside and sit there), but if you listen to your gut, it’ll tell you that this is the only way we can get free from the limitations that stuttering brings.
The best solutions come to people and companies when they face a problem.
People who stutter are facing a problem every single day. And they need to adjust to it somehow. While I’m a strong believer that we all can get free from stutter, and I’m putting my efforts to it, it’s clear that it’s not a one-shot game. While you’re on this path making your baby steps on your way learn living lean.
Skill to go through with limited resources is an equally helpful treat if you’re lost in the forest or starting out a company. It makes you creative; it makes you a problem solver.
If you come back and look at the famous people, who stutter many of them were great not because of their strong character but due to their creativity.
When I was back in college, I was knocked down by a car right before my first exams session began. So I missed the session and had to pass my exams individually. I came up using crutches and stuttered pretty badly. I remember faces of the professors. They didn’t even seem to listen giving me all A’s.
I also remember the painful moments. Maybe most vividly than anything else. All those cringes, raising eyebrows, eyes going wide open. When I went to stutter intentionally or used my new awkward speaking skills during the therapy, I felt kind of fine. I felt the worst when it was least expected, like from friends.
Bullying and compassion are two sides of the same coin. Other people may not get as many bullies, but they also don't get as much compassion.
You are selected to be exposed and be vulnerable to all that spectrum of feelings and attitudes and experiences. That's the wonderful, intricate and tricky game of life. Live it.
Join the discussion. Say what comes to your mind. Please leave a comment - would love to know what you think!