Good evening everyone! These last few days the world has been buzzing about what may have been one of the greatest basketball games ever played in the college arenas. Even if you don't follow the NCAA Tournament (and I am not someone who is big into the brackets), you couldn't help but notice what was truly a very special game for the championship, which pitted the small school of Butler University from Indiana's Hoosierville against the perennial contenders from Duke University in North Carolina. Although Butler came up two points short, I will guarantee you that they will probably celebrate being number two for a very long time.
Yet for some reason, this country seems to galvanize the fact that only those who earn number one status will also reap the rewards of being remembered. Here's a sampling of what second place means to some: "Second place is the first loser." "No one remembers who came in second." In the book "Tuesdays with Morrie," by Mitch Albom, there's a great line about that: "What's wrong with being number two?"
Being a person who stutters often meant that in my life, I would often be jealous of others because I felt different. In many ways, I would see myself as second in everything. Other students, it seemed, were destined to take the glamorous road: good colleges, a prestigious job after graduation, a good house in the suburbs. Yet unbeknownst to me, I didn't realize it then, but now I am starting to see that being second isn't so bad at all.
We do have to fight for everything we get. Some of us just have to do it more than others. I don't see my stuttering as a disability, yet I see it as the greatest inspiration that shows me I can do great things and not only make my life better, but others as well. When a person who stutters has to go on an interview, they're not just competing against others who want that position. How, you ask? Well, they are competing against themselves too: they want the challenge of seeing that they can do it. And even if we get that dreaded letter of rejection, we know there'll be another day. So we came in second. We did. We tried. That, to me, means more than anything in the world.
As those who read my blog know, I am a big advocate of the National Stuttering Association, which is the greatest love of my life. And when we come together for our annual conference in a few short weeks, we have a special awards ceremony where we recognize the outstanding contributors who have given of themselves. Of course, it's a great thrill to be recognized, but at the same time, being an advocate for me is its own reward. All the members want to win an award, but I am the first person to walk up and congratulate someone if they win. I do not go expecting to win, because all our work speaks for itself.
Some of the best things in life have been number twos: like movie sequels. (Well, a few of them anyway). And if I am number two, I'll gladly take it. Because there's nothing wrong with being number two. Butler isn't, that's for sure.
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.