October 14,2009

You see, all throughout my life, I’ve lived with one of the biggest fears. The fear of not being able to speak because of my stutter. I've held myself back from certain opportunities so that I avoid speaking. As a child, I went through rigorous speech classes which involved speaking to therapists and being told I have to slow down my speech and to breathe while speaking, something that is physically impossible. After the death of my friends, my speech has noticeably worsened, so severe, that I avoid conversations and over think which words I use. This continues to eat me alive. I was told that I'd never overcome stuttering, which I still haven’t. Simply put, I should attempt nothing, take no risks, not involve myself in conversations because I stutter.

During school presentations, I would purposely excuse myself from class to avoid oral presentations. I would approach my teachers on the first day of class about my stutter so they can accept me like the rest of their students. They were really supportive. It even came down to ordering food, whether over the phone or in person. Every attempt at speaking, my parents finished sentences I couldn't complete and got angry when I tripped over words. I guess they were more disappointed rather than being angry as to why their child speaks the way he does, hence taking the blame for my speech impediment. Being made fun of was a daily experience, I even laughed it off multiple times because I was helpless. If I showed any emotion, more kids would join the parade. I overcame that eventually as I grew older.  Now I’m an adult and it bugs me in other ways. I frequently wish that the only method of communication is via text or email so that nobody can listen to me. I’ve noticed that I think far too much before I speak. I organize which words I should begin my sentences, I gather “emergency” words in case the original plan fails.
You’re probably thinking, “Why is he writing this?” Well, I’ve been a firm believer of writing down things that bother you, so here it is. I want to be successful at selling homes. I’ve always had the passion of doing so. But stuttering stands in the way. I can choose to give it life by giving it the time of day or I can simply accept myself for who I am. At first it might be hard, I understand, but eventually, I will make that presentation at a seminar with a room full of 500 people and offer them my words of wisdom, I will take potential clients to lunch and comfortably hold a conversation, I will establish a stuttering organization/foundation which emphasizes on prevention and coping. I will be that successful person I’ve always known to be. I have success in me, it’s in my mind, I know how to reach it, I just can't translate it into words because I'm worried about stuttering. I will speak one day without the worry of stuttering.
If you EVER have the unique experience of speaking with someone who stutters, please, bear with them and never finish their sentences. Never look away while they are speaking. Never make facial remarks as this makes them more anxious. Never comfort them about their stutter and never coach them on how to overcome it.They’re trying to be like you, to speak, and to speak normal. Accept them for who they are. It might take longer for sentences to be completed and words to be said, give them the time. As time progresses, you'll notice less stuttering, this is because they are being listened and accepted for who they are.

Until next time,
Arbi Baghoomian