A Flight to the Top

December 10, 2011  |  Posted in: Members' Blog - Stuttering Perspectives   |  By:   |   1 Comment

Imagine knowing exactly what you want to say but not being able to say it. That is the challenge stutterers face on a daily basis. As a person who has stuttered since childhood, every aspect of my life has been affected by this speech impediment; whether it is introducing myself to someone, ordering food in a restaurant or simply answering the phone. What most people consider to be an everyday “norm,” I consider a major obstacle. For over 20 years, I allowed my stutter to control me. I would avoid social situations, I would only order food that I knew I could pronounce without stuttering and I would let the phone ring unanswered.

As a child, I had my share of strange looks, people finishing my sentences and avoidance.  Over time, these awkward moments took a toll on my self-esteem. I became withdrawn and tended to rely greatly upon my twin brother, who did not stutter, to speak for me. He was my crutch. Upon entering high school, we went to different schools and I had to find a new way to, so-called “fix,” the situation. My solution was to avoid speaking at all costs. For those four years, I rarely raised my hand and avoided giving presentations at all costs. In my mind, I was not going to let anyone, under any circumstances, know I stuttered. My teachers knew I was a good student because my written work proved it but the whole time I was thinking to myself, “Boy! Am I lucky!” This continued on through college where I continued to implement this “wonderful plan of mine.”

After graduating college, I entered the workforce. My life-long dream was to work for the NY Rangers hockey organization. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I did not obtain a position with them. Instead, I worked for an architectural company in Manhattan. It was a small office and I was left alone for a good portion of the day. Once again, I found a way to adapt to the situation at hand and hide my stuttering. However, after two years something was not right. At first I could not put my finger on it. Finally, it came to me. Simply put: I was not happy. I just could not picture myself having this position for the rest of my life. I am always up for a challenge and this job was the same routine every day. Something needed to give. My mother suggested that I become a teacher. I enjoyed working with kids and helping others. Although at first I was quite skeptical, for the first time in my life, I took the plunge and began the process of applying to an education graduate program. Since then, I have yet to have any regrets.

I can proudly say that I have been a special education teacher for the past five years. No longer do I have a job, but I have a career. I now order what I want from a restaurant and the phone no longer rings unanswered. When a situation arises, I do not run and hide, but I face it knowing that in the end, I am being true to myself. I am a coach for a local softball organization and give back to the community as often as possible. Granted, there are times that my speech gets the best of me but rather than focus on the negative, I try to learn from these situations.

Since joining the NSA Queens chapter, I have found a new family. Although we come from various backgrounds and have different lives, we all have one common factor: we stutter and we try our best to accept this aspect of our lives rather than fight it.

-Christina S.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Blog section of the NSA Queens Chapter website do not necessarily concur with the views or beliefs of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) or the Queens Chapter of the NSA. They are the opinion of each individual contributing author who attends the Queens chapter.

1 Comment for this entry

  • Diana Cepeda

    December 13th, 2011 on 3:53 am

    It was really nice meeting you at the last meeting in Queens. I was really happy to read your story and everything you over came. It gives me hope that I can also push myself for a change.

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