This Is Your Time
by: Allyson Alford
What have you told yourself that you are not capable of doing because of your stutter? Teach? Become an actor? Test the waters with entrepreneurship? The world needs someone for each of these tasks, so why not you?
Feelings of insufficiency and insecurity are common with people in general. We are all trying to navigate life with a unique “something” that we are striving to work through. However, these feelings of insufficiency and insecurity are especially common with people who stutter. From our personal lives to television shows and movies, we see that people who stutter are often perceived and treated in a way that is not polite. According to a term paper that was written and published on Essaytown.com called How Does Stuttering Affect Self Esteem?:
There are numerous reasons why stuttering may affect self-esteem during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. When children start realizing that they are different from others, they may start developing early stages of low self-esteem. Other children and siblings may find stutterers “funny” and tease them. Some parents may overpressure stuttering children or constantly correct them, making them less confident in their abilities.
Living with the awful memories of what it is like to be reminded that you are different for something you cannot help is heartbreaking, and those memories speak to us everytime we want to put ourselves out there for an opportunity. Of course, this makes it challenging at times to go for what we want.
Regardless of what others may think or say, remember these two things:
- You are in control of your destiny.
- While some people are mean about stuttering, many people do not mind as much as we may think they do.
I know that stuttering makes it difficult to step out and pursue your dreams because of the fear of how others will perceive you. Remember, you are not an inconvenience. You deserve to pursue whatever you want to obtain in your life.
Of course, this is easier said than it is done, right? I mean, if it were easy, all of us who stutter would be doing what we want to do. Many of us are doing what we truly want to do; however, there are still a great number of us who aren’t living up to our full potential. Here are a few concepts to understand and implement to help you on your journey:
Fear is a Deception
Our feelings are valid— yes. At the same time, they aren’t always necessarily true. We tend to fear what hasn’t happened yet. One of my favorite quotes is, “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” (Seneca). When we allow fear to hold us back, we are allowing an illusion to keep us stuck. Remember: it is okay to stutter.
Stuttering is Okay
For many people who stutter, fluency is the goal. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! It’s important, however, for people who stutter to know that stuttering is completely okay.
We have been told (in both overt and covert ways) that stuttering is something we should be ashamed of and something that must be fixed (or must be hidden). That could not be further from the truth. Remind yourself daily that stuttering is okay. Remind yourself that it’s okay to speak the way that you do and that your cadence is beautiful and unique to you.
Find Comfort in the Uncomfortable
Who said it would be easy? We all know that navigating life with a stutter isn’t necessarily “easy.” We must also be willing to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions in order to grow and to gain confidence in our abilities.
Start Small. You don’t have to do it all at once. Work your way up. If you usually don’t answer questions in class, volunteer to answer a question. If you usually do not speak first at family gatherings, make it your goal to speak to one person first. If you typically order online, try calling an order in for pick-up. You’ll find that your confidence in yourself will start to build up over time.
Do this often. Daily. Even hourly if you must. Here is a list of affirmations for people who stutter that I absolutely love:
- My voice is valuable.
- I am capable and competent.
- I love how unique my speech is.
- I stutter and still do great things.
- Stuttering does not alter my abilities to make great things happen.
- I love my speech.
- I am listened to by others.
- My speech is not an inconvenience.
- I am happy with the way I speak.
It may sound a bit odd to say these when you first start saying them, but continue speaking them— even on days when you don’t quite believe it. One day, you’ll begin to live out these affirmations. Do you have any affirmations that you tell yourself as a person who stutters? What is your favorite thing to tell yourself to get your confidence going?
But Our Feelings Don’t Go Away
I am not here to say that positive affirmations about stuttering will remove certain feelings that may come up during the course of our lives. Everyday is not the same. Some days, you may struggle more with believing it. Do not stop saying them, and if you skip a day– hey, it’s okay. Get back on track the next day (or the next hour).
No matter what, speaking positively about your speech helps you to better accept it.
Many of us struggle due to acceptance. We don’t want the world to know that we stutter. We want to prove to others (or ourselves) that we can be just as fluent as the next person. In reality, everyone’s stutter is different, and our stutter may fluctuate throughout our lives. There will be seasons in life where we are more fluent and seasons where we stutter more. Both are okay. The key is to accept yourself for who you are holistically, and that includes accepting your speech.
We understand the root of the reason why we have faded into the shadows for so long. Being singled out because we stutter, starting from our youth has impacted many of us greatly. However, we now know that we do not have to fade into the shadows any longer. This life is ours to live, and it is up to us to make those things that we desire happen for us.
In case nobody has told you lately, your voice matters.
I challenge you to go for what you want after reading this. Whether it is an interview, an audition, or calling in your Domino’s Pizza® order instead of ordering online, you can do it.
What is one thing you’ve been yearning to do, haven’t done yet, but will do now?
How Does Stuttering Affect Self-Esteem?. (2012, March 5). Web. 21 February 2023.
Guest Author Allyson Alford writes a blog about self-esteem in the lives of those who stutter from an angle of realism about the challenges that we face. She also reassures us that we can still do great things even though we stutter. Allyson thinks about ways in which she has navigated gaining more confidence with having a stutter, and shares them with us in this inspiring piece.