One of the greatest things about being a person who stutters, in my eyes, is to be able to break down any situation and somehow, there will always be incomparable comparisons with stuttering. No matter if you're out for a walk, or just sitting home and spending some good old quality time with the clicker, we can always come across a lesson learned from stuttering.
Something that I have recently gotten into is watching reruns of "Deal or No Deal" on the Game Show Network. I know the show ended a while ago, but whenever I watch it, I can't help but think about the approach of contestants and how that can be analyzed in terms of my speech. The show, which aired on NBC, really does not require any advanced knowledge, but one can make an argument that weighing the odds and taking a risk is definitely an asset if you know how to use it. The show, which has aired internationally in other countries, is hosted by Howie Mandel. He takes a contestant and places them in front of 26 supermodels looking all elegant in evening wear (or appropriate costume as the theme dictates), and the hopeful winner is asked to pick a briefcase numbered from 1-26, while standing in front of a board with 26 amounts, ranging from one penny to one million dollars. The challenge of course, is to win the million dollars or one of the high amounts without knocking them out early. Of course, the higher the amounts left in play, the better offer the banker (who is never seen) will try to negotiate to get you to leave the show. There have been million dollar winners, and those who had the best case, but gave up early so that they left with something. Six cases are opened first, then five, then four...and so on.
As people who stutter, one of the things we have learned (and continue to pursue) is the need to take risks and step out of the boundaries we have become so comfortable with. Yet there is one challenge that stands above all else-it is not speaking in a restaurant and trying to say what you want, although that is a very big one. It boils down to this: "How will I be today?"
I think more than anything, it's the fear of the unknown that provides with us great nervousness. So, if you will indulge me, let's try for a "Deal Or No Dealization" of stuttering. You stand in front of ten briefcases, each of them has a percentage amount which determines how fluent you will be today. One case has ten percent, all the way up to 100 percent. Do you want to pick one and accept that will determine your rate of fluency for the day? Or would you rather not play the game, wake up, and accept whatever will be will be?
I used to see myself as someone who wanted to play the game. But the more I thought about it, I realized that do I want to give my stuttering any more control of my life than it already has? Absolutely not. Those days are long gone, and I have no desire to bring them back ever again. These days when I walk out the door for work, I look at the mirror in my care before I drive off, smile confidently, and drive away. Because I know with the power of NSA Nation, all things are possible. Tomorrow, the sun will rise, and it will be another chance to speak and express myself the way I know how to: openly, and from my heart with raw, pure emotion.
Deal Or No Deal? I think I've made my choice. To let stuttering tell me how I am going to live my life, I say emphatically and slam the buzzer down: NO DEAL!
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.