Good evening everyone. I wanted to devote this edition of the blog to the weekend that just passed, which was Valentine's Day. Now depending on if you're single or in a relationship, this is either the greatest day to celebrate love or the absolute worst. I'm not here to discuss that, though. But what I found interesting is that finally, after a long, long time, I realize now the old cliche really is true. You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you. And for a long time as a person who stutters, I never did. I was angry with myself, often wondering why I was being "punished" by having a speech impediment. I'd speak at the dinner table and see my parents exasperated, as they rolled their eyes. And I realized that I hated myself for everything.
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel held at Columbia University with a graduate class, and one of the panelists talked about "the psychology of stuttering." It was definitely very insightful. You often hear throughout life that people talk about certain circumstances that define them, have a positive/negative impact on them. For so long, especially in my adolescent years, I felt things deterioate to the point where I had become so desensitized that I really did not care. I became a person who could care less...and now I couldn't care more about what it means to help people who stutter. It's true that we all have moments that define us. However, ultimately the responsibility to feel good about who we are lies with us.
If you are in the negativity zone, GET OUT. Take my word for it-no one wants to associate with someone who feels negative. We all feel sad at times. We all feel like giving up. I would walk into a restaurant and eat by myself, and I would look around seeing other people laughing, having a good time, and I would begin to think "If only they found out I stuttered....I wonder what they'd think of me." Well, I know there are people who don't like me. And that's OK if they don't. Because I'll still like them back.
My birthday is coming up on April 21, and I'll be 31. Tonight I unearthed my high school yearbook, and was looking back at my classmates. Some of them changed for the better, others for the worse. Some are married with kids, others are still waiting for the happily ever after. We may spend our entire lives trying to find it. But once you love yourself, really commit to doing so, you may find that you had the happily ever after all along. You see, the best relationship isn't with the opposite sex, it's with yourself.
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.