Good evening everyone,
The word "pride" can, and often does have many meanings. When one thinks of pride, we may associate it as being one of the seven deadly sins. Or it can be used in a complimentary manner. Yet if you really want to see it in a different way, having pride can often be the catalyst one needs to get their life started.
Last week, as I was enjoying another quiet dinner at the local Friendly's before my speech therapy, I was reading the New York Post and came across an article written by Lenn Robbins, who covers college football. The story was about Doug Marrone, the coach of the football program at Syracuse University. Syracuse is about five hours north of me, and a well-known college town. There's a damn good diner in the suburbs in Baldwinsville, but once again I am going off on a tangent. There was one section of the article that I read and then did a double-take. The paragraph spoke about how there was a piece of paper littering the locker room, and how one of the players was asked to pick it up. One of the players, Doug Hogue, stated it was about the "little things." "If you let the little things go, then you will begin to let the big things go," he said. "Great teams don't let the little things go."
Like many people who stutter, I never had a great deal of pride in myself. I suppose it's easy to understand why. When you open your mouth and the words don't come out, it is a vocal spasm, but more appropriately, it's a "speech freeze." The snickers and laughs emerge from the other people listening, and you walk away. The sunshine fades into darkness, and you become the person walking around with the raincloud over your head for the rest of your life.
It wasn't until I attended a National Stuttering Association conference that I really began to embrace the concept of what having pride means. Having pride means waking up and knowing you are OK, and your day will be OK. It means doing the little things. And what might you ask, are these "little things?". Well, first of all, it means starting your day with some positive self-talk. Yes, we all have those days where we wake up and feel life sucks. Or we can wake up feeling like P. Diddy, for example. Tell yourself that you are a fun person who enjoys being around others. But when you brush your teeth and look in the mirror, instead of focusing on your watch and seeing if you are running late, why don't you take a few moments to have pride in who you are and what you stand for. Be your own best advocate. I can guarantee you this much-if you don't, no one else will.
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.