Forgiving My Hard Days as a Person Who Stutters
Around Christmas, I was going through an extremely rough stretch with my stutter. The pinnacle was when the thought, “I wish I didn’t stutter,” crossed my mind. My brain was not ready to entertain this unexpected visitor. I initially entertained my visitor by writing about how I was feeling in that moment. When my guest longed for more entertainment, I posted in the National Stuttering Association Young Adults Facebook group to vent my frustrations about my visitor and how I couldn’t get it to leave.
One of my friends, Jaymie, commented on my post and said, “Forgive your hard days.” That stopped me in my tracks and slowly allowed my unexpected visitor to be entertained and leave. It’s been nearly seven months and those words have become one of my favorite pieces of advice for not just stuttering, but life.
In terms of stuttering, “forgive your hard days” means don’t harp so much on my stuttering moments. During my junior and senior years of college, as well as early in my post-grad life, I would get mad at myself for stuttering. There were many instances when I would practice a class presentation or the readings for Mass in the confines of the therapy room and it would be fluent. Come the day of the presentation or Mass, I would stutter on what seemed like every syllable of every word. What should’ve been a three-minute reading or presentation turned into what felt like a three-hour presentation because my stutter was that bad. Once I finished, I would be pissed at myself because I expected fluency out of myself. I would be in a terrible mood the rest of the day and unfortunately lashed out at some people during those times. Sorry about that, y’all.
As I’ve gotten older, the anger that was living rent free in my mind has since found a new place to live. I’ve learned I care far more about my stutter than most people. I’ve learned there are far worse things in life than stuttering. I’ve learned that sometimes half the battle is just doing it, regardless of fluency. If I use my stutter as an excuse not to do something, my stutter wins.
I’ve learned to celebrate the small victories of stuttering. To see the beauty in stuttering. And when my stutter is bad to the point where I can’t do that, I forgive myself, my stutter and my hard days. I demonstrated my years of learning and self-growth when I gave my TEDx Ochsner talk on June 12. I didn’t get mad at myself for stuttering, but rather celebrated what I had just accomplished.
In life, the phrase means not letting self-doubt get to me. This was, is and most likely always will be a challenge for me. If this was an Olympic event, I would be a multi-gold medalist. For my entire life, I’ve felt a ton of external pressure to succeed, and in turn I’ve only increased the amount of pressure on myself to fulfill those expectations. The need to succeed is a facet of every aspect of my life. I would beat myself up over my perceived failures and question every decision I’ve ever made. During my perceived failures at work, school or self-growth, I would wonder if what I was doing was good enough. I would harp so much on minor failures that I would doubt my abilities. I would wonder if I belonged and was good enough at my job or in my degree field.
Over the few months or so, those self-beatings have decreased significantly. I had to convince myself I am enough and that having self-doubt is part of being human. I had to remind myself those who truly love and care for me value my happiness over my perceived success. That my work is changing so many lives. That I am doing well and doing good in life. That I must forgive my hard days.
Getty image by cash14.