First and foremost, I want to thank John Carlisle and Kimberly Mitchell for putting the story and video together in such a tremendous way. Initially, I had reservations about sharing so much and letting people in on such a large platform. Stuttering is an important part of my life and I wanted to be sure that it was portrayed in a positive light, as it should be. I was extremely pleased with the job John and Kimberly did and the way the piece was put together. Many thanks to you both.
A little background, I had spoken with John briefly about my project, a little about my personal story and stuttering before we met. I knew that he wanted to “experience” the project for himself, and we agreed to meet on the campus of Wayne State University. John was there with his video counterpart, Kimberly. Both were very nice and interested.
Shortly after we met I was mic’d up and the camera was turned on. It was “go time”. This was definitely a heightened situation and I immediately began to feel the angst and nerves creep in. When the time came to approach people on campus, I subconsciously started to rehearse my “tools”, such as easy-onset, prolongations, or any sort of trick I have to increase fluency. As soon as I struggled with the first “hello”, I knew fluency would be hard to come by.
Walking around campus, in the library, next to the food trucks and then in the classroom, I encountered a lot of people. I ended up speaking with around 15 people on campus and in front of 40 or so grad students. All interactions were different, all positive and all dysfluent. Honestly, I began to feel like I was at the NSA conference. I could approach anyone I wanted to, speak freely, and it felt incredible.
During these few hours, I had a moment. It hit me just how powerful this project was and the magnitude of effect it has had on me.
I knew that fluency would be hard to come by. I knew I’d be stuttering a great deal in front of strangers. I knew I was on camera and many people would see. And that was okay. In fact, it was better.
The fact that I stuttered and grinded so mightily that morning, was a good thing. It gave people a honest look into what stuttering can be like. Some days no matter how much I “relax”, “slow down” or implement tools it still takes a great deal of effort to get most words out. And on that day, that was the case.
In the past, bouts with stuttering often meant shame, embarrassment and disappointment. Not that day and not again.
I want sincerely thank everyone for all the support throughout these 91 days and after the story came out. The story was ran in the Detroit Free Press, online at USA Today, and via publications in Louisiana, Virginia and Florida. I’ve received a number of e-mails, endless amounts of “likes”, shout outs from people in my community, and extra comments on my blog. They have all been positive and all much appreciated. This experience has been extremely humbling and has cemented my belief that people are good, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by the best.
Thank you all again. 9 days left, let’s finish strong.