Have you ever stopped to think about the series of fortunate, or unfortunate, events in your life that lead up to where you are and who you are today? The reason why have the job that you do? The reason you treat other people the way you do? The reason that you have the interest and hobbies that you do?
I have and I would like to share it with you.
Straight to the point
I am not very open about it and I’m not sure if many people besides my close friends and family know but… I have a stutter.
There. I said it. And now we all know. It wasn’t that hard to say, was it?
Actually… it was.
Living with a stutter
Saying little things like “I have a stutter” or “May I have a drink of water?” or even “My name is Josh” can easily be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in my day-to-day activities. What’s even crazier is sometimes just thinking that I will have to say something like “My name is Josh” can be an even harder challenge. My mind will cycle through all the ways I can fail on that little sentence for hours which will drive me into a dark abyss.
Not being able to say what I want to say cannot only become mentally exhausting and physically frustrating but can also be downright embarrassing. This overwhelming sense of weakness comes racing over me because I can’t even say my own name or ask for a basic necessity.
I have gone through a lot of my life trying to avoid situations where I need to talk. I would try to hide from my teacher to avoid reading during class. I would ask to make videos for assignments I wouldn’t have to give a presentation in front of the class. I would take the stairs to avoid possible conversations in an elevator. I would order any food online that I could to avoid having to order over the phone.
Actor James Earl Jones, who also had a stutter, sums it up pretty well in this quote.
“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”
– James Earl Jones
I hope I’m not making you depressed or making you feel sorry for me by this point. That was not my goal. My goal was to raise awareness for the day-to-day stressors, thoughts, and actions as stutterer.
My weakness is my strength
So what does stuttering have to do with who I am and what I do today?
I can listen pretty well - I can’t always say what I want to say but I can always listen to you want to say :). If someone wants to talk, I will listen because I know I would want the same in return.
I try to show empathy - I have been told “Just say it” more times than I would probably like to admit. If I was able to “just say it” don’t you think I would? I know stuttering is not a condition that a lot of people “get”. Understanding that other people don’t understand my stutter as made me realize that there are probably a lot of things about other people that I probably don’t “get”. Even if I don’t “get” it, I will do my best to try to understand.
I prefer anti-social activities - I am really good at hanging out at home on weekends - there is no stress about having to talk to lots of people. I can sit around and just hangout with my cat that doesn’t care if I talk or not. However, when I do want to be social, I like to hangout at the gym or at a coffee shop (I can be around people without actually talking to people).
If I need to talk, I’m good at talking about nothing - My stutter comes out the most when I usually have something important to say. My mind goes through endless loops of all the words I have failed to say before. But one thing I am good at talking about is nothing. I can talk about nonsense and change the subject for hours. If I don’t know what I am going to say next, there is a good chance that I won’t have any problem saying it.
I enjoy conversations over Twitter too much - This one should seem pretty obvious :). I can literally say anything I want by typing. It is a great way to talk to people without having to worry about a stutter that could pop up at any moment.
I spend probably way too much time programming - Programming is a language that I understand. A language that lives in an entirely different world that I can see into. It’s a language that I can speak without having a fear of stuttering. It’s output that I have full control over. It gives me a way to take what is in my head and projected it into form that anyone can see and understand. I know this sounds a bit crazy :).
I am me
I would like to congratulate you for reading this far! I would also like to thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope it has given you a little insight into how I work and how I ended up being me.
My stutter has guided me to find my passion that is programming and it has helped me acquire a great deal of friends that I care about and care about me.
To everyone who will continue to look down on, judge, and make fun of me (and others) for a speech impediment: I want to let all of you know that I feel sorry for you.
To the rest of you who can see me for who I truely am (and who others truly are): You are awesome and will always stay awesome. Let’s be friends. Chat me up at @joshdholtz