Good evening everyone,
As I am writing this edition of my blog, I am trying to think back to the time when I was home watching the clock strike twelve and welcome in the year 2010. This was the year......for many things. This was the year I'd fall in love. It was going to be the year that I'd return to working out and feeling good about myself. And then I began to wonder how long it would take to make those goals disappear. I don't think those goals are unrealistic, but I began to feel my brain bubbling and coming up with a new goal. I want to be consistent....in everything I do.
Like many people who stutter, high school and college and my years in my twenties were nothing short of hell. The nights I cried, the long walks home by myself, finding myself absorbed in loneliness and the denial of my rights to be heard, to be wanted. Although I had found some academic success in the classroom, those moments were fleeting and confined to one or two classes at best. And when my parents went to the teacher conferences, the one word heard over and over was "consistent." Some of the general comments that I'd heard were "Steven has untapped potential but he's so enigmatic. Imagine what he could be if he was consistent."
One of the challenges I face as a person who stutters, among many, is the ability to be consistent. Sure, one way to look at it is that I stutter consistently. Yet when I go to speech therapy, I do really well in the confines of the office with my speech pathologist, and I have again those fleeting moments when I can hold a conversation with minimal blocking. But more often than most, once I go out of those doors back home, it seems like I begin stuttering more severely than when I entered the office in the first place. But this to me is a challenge that I relish. For the longest time, I got really good at running away. But sooner or later, you will get tired of doing it. We can't run forever.
You can be consistent with many other things that revolve around stuttering. I made a pledge to myself to be consistent in my desire to educate and support others and myself. I said I wanted to be consistent in speaking my mind at all times and refusing to be reserved. It may be hard to believe, but in my pre-NSA days, I would agree that I had to be seen and not heard. (See me at an NSA conference and you'll know why I say that). Now, I start conversations anywhere, anytime. I've been on the subway platforms in New York City and chatted with random people about everything from the weather to politics. Not only is it great practice, but it's another step forward for being consistent in my life-to represent myself as a person who stutters to the best extent possible.
On the topic of consistency, I happened to read a brief article in The Hockey News that got my attention and in a way created the topic. For those who have not heard of Daniel Alfredsson, he is the captain and top winger for the Ottawa Senators. I love hockey and one of the reasons I frequently reference it is because the lessons that we can learn are innumerable. I often find myself drawn to watching players who maybe aren't heralded as much, but get the most out of their abilities and help in other ways that the scoreboard never reflects. He will more than likely break the 1,000-point level and earn induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he never had the dynamic pizzazz that superstar players do. He was even picked in the sixth round as an afterthought, and won Olympic gold.
If you're wondering why I mention him, in the article it talked about his career. His team played in the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07, but lost to the Anaheim Ducks. That may have been his one chance at winning a championship, since the team is struggling and he will finish his career quite possibly on a bad team. (The owner, Eugene Melnyk, vowed he'd be a "Senator for Life." If he never wins a title, Alfredsson had an interesting take on it: "I'm proud of my consistency," he said.
You can be consistent as a person who stutters. Be consistent in your actions. Be consistent in your relationships with others, even if they do not stutter. Be consistent in everything you do...and maybe you too will see that it is something to be proud of.
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.