Good evening everyone,
It's no secret that I am very passionate about the National Stuttering Association and I love it with all my heart and soul. Whenever there's a chance to advertise it, I'll do so. If there's an opening where I can talk about it, I'll happily take advantage of it. The funny thing about life and these opportunities, though, is you never know when and where the chances will be presented.
A few weeks ago, maybe a few days after returning home from Arizona, I had to bring my car into a body shop to be repaired because there was a scratch on the door, having been keyed. As I was in the Enterprise rental facility, I happened to be talking with the customer service representative behind the desk, and I mentioned I had returned from a conference out west. Naturally, she grew curious, and I happily shared with her all the details about the NSA experience in Arizona, which was also enhanced by my T-shirt from the most magical experience of my life. They say you never forget your first time, and Long Beach will always be the one I'll remember for the rest of my life. Atlanta was the one where I knew I wanted to fall for a Southern woman (and more LOL), North Jersey was a quantum leap for me, but Arizona was something else. As she and I began to talk further, I could see her eyes lighting up with fiery intensity, wanting to know all she could about this organization that I am head-over-heels in love with. Eventually after ten minutes, my car was ready, and we went our own separate ways, but I'll never forget how she ended the conversation. "I think it's so cool how you all have this special thing in your life," she said.
When I was younger and in my teen/college years, I doubt me or any of my teammates would have used the word "cool" to describe anything related to stuttering or the NSA. In fact, most of us would rather lock those memories away and imagine they never happened. Teasing is not cool. Bullying is not cool. Not being able to say hello and participate in social activities, and as a result feeling like you have live alienated from the rest of the modern world is not cool. But flying back home on Southwest to Long Island, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a woman who was a college lacrosse coach, who had accepted a position with a school in New Jersey. I was on one side of her, and one of my NSA teammates who was on the same flight with me was on the other side. And we too shared our stories with her, and we all enjoyed a great conversation. Hearing a complete stranger say how amazing the NSA is was such a powerful thing that I was experiencing the feeling that anything is possible.
I know in today's world, sometimes it's hard to find the genuine qualities in people. You sometimes don't know if they're really interested, or they're just saying "Oh, that's nice," because it's really impolite to be rude. Before I found the NSA, I would travel and keep to myself. And as I've grown socially, I feel that I've undergone the complete metamorphisis into a social butterfly. It really is about the journey, and I am learning that patience is a value we need to have. We all have things that we want, and want them now. Sometimes we'll get them, and other times we need to wait for the right opportunities to present itself. But I promise you this, and this is for all my teammates to hear: I'm going to be heard. I'm going to spread the love I have for the NSA all over this world. Do you know why? Because when you love something this much, you're going to want the whole world to see it. I know what I'm fighting for-to make the world aware of the National Stuttering Association. My teammates fight with me.
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.