Monday, March 25, 2013

#100stutterProject: 50 for Day 50

Signatures of the 50 people I advertised to on Day 50.

#100stutterProject: 50 for Day 50

A big reason why I started #100stutterProject (and still attend speech therapy) is to both ensure that my stuttering doesn’t turn me into someone I am not, and to work become the person I want to be.  I love to interact with others, I love to converse with people, I love to learn through conversation and I love to talk. In the past when people have described me as “quiet” or “shy”, it would bother me on a very deep level.

Advertising at work.
When stuttering becomes a real grind, it’s easy to close down, go through the motions and find comfort in silence. In the past, I had conditioned myself to only seek out conversation when absolutely necessary and then act apathetically when I’d avoid a chance to interject, compliment someone, introduce myself, etc. As a person who stutters, I believed that the risk outweighed the reward, and the fear of a rough period of fluency made speaking in those situations just not worth it. I became far too comfortable in this way of social living and I’m glad this project has offered me a change of perspective.

This project has challenged me to be socially proactive and in turn, I find myself talking/engaging with so many more people. More than 50 days in, I’m so much more willing to make small talk with a stranger, ask someone how their day is, or introduce myself to others. Not only is advertising a tremendous “ice breaker” but it sets the tone for all other interactions, everyday. I find myself worrying so much less about fluency, secondaries, listener reaction and everything else I often worry about. Even when speaking is tough, I’ve begun to find comfort in communication.

Approaching the halfway point of my project, I wanted to do something challenging for Day 50. During this process I’ve realized just how many opportunities there are, everyday, to engage in conversation with all sorts of people.  At the office, gym, class, a restaurant, bar or wherever, I was curious to see just how many people I came in contact with on an average day.  
Michigan State Basketball

On Day 50, I decided to advertise to 50 people. I had to work, train and watch Michigan State basketball on this day, so I wasn’t able to speak to a large group of people at once. I wanted the 50 people to be people I had an opportunity to speak with on a daily basis. This includes friends, family, coworkers, people at the gym, the bar, or wherever.

Advertising at the gym.
I was amazed just how receptive everyone was that I talked with, both willing to listen and also share. Advertising on Day 50, offered me the chance to get closer with my coworkers, catch up with family and neighbors, learn more about my friends, educate others about stuttering and what it means to me. I could have gone through the day like any other and but this was much, much more rewarding.

I urge you to think about people close to you, or those who you run into everyday.
·      Do you avoid interaction?
·      Do they know what stuttering means to you?
·      What could you learn from them?

Be proactive in your communication, and be the speaker and person you see yourself as.

It isn’t always easy, but nothing worth it ever is.

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