I just graduated from graduate school in May. I was consistently assigned presentations. My last presentation was in late April and I delivered it with comfort and confidence. I focused on the content and I didn’t worry about if I was going to stutter or not. At the end of that presentation I still felt comfortable and confident. I also felt equal to my fellow classmates and I didn’t feel shame during my moments of stuttering.
I never thought that I would ever give a presentation with such ease and comfort as a person who stutters.
In the past, when I was assigned a presentation for my class, I would get really anxious. I would start to get obsessed with the date of the presentation… meaning I thought about the upcoming presentation every day even though it was months away. I would practice different tricks to try to hide my stuttering. I practiced breathing, prolonging words and speaking slowly but deep down inside, I knew I would fail in implementing these tricks on the day of the presentation.
As the presentation day got closer and closer, the more I would worry. There would be nights where I wouldn’t sleep and there would be nights where I would cry myself to sleep. All because I knew this was the one situation where I would be exposed as a person who stutters.
On the day of the presentation, my stomach would be in knots, I would run back and forth to the bathroom and I just felt physically sick.
So I ask myself now…. How could I have 2 completely different experiences in presenting from just a few months of avoidance reduction therapy?
The answer is….. I have chosen to get on the road of self- acceptance. Which is a difficult road to travel.
To me, self acceptance means:
As a life long covert stutterer, I was in denial and refused to admit that I stutter. I pretended to be “ a fluent” person. I never open stuttered nor did I advertise. I changed when the pain of being in denial was too much to bear. I finally had to accept that I am person who stutters, and that it is OK.