Friday, March 23, 2007

Don't Let Stuttering Discourage Your Dreams

Recently, I've received a number of emails from readers who are either thinking of going into a particular field of work or who are already in school or are working in particular fields and they ask about my law endeavors, if it's been a hindrance.

I'll be honest: yes, it's been somewhat of a hindrance. On a number of levels. First, in seeking an internship, it was a hindrance, first, because I didn't look as hard as other law students might, simply because I lacked the same confidence. Instead of being aggressive in my search, I looked for easier means of landing a position. Second, I'm certain that my stutter may have deterred one or two of the firms from taking me on. At the end of the day, however, one firm wanted me despite my stutter and went to great lengths to get me, even emailing and calling over and over even when I had settled on another. (It got rather annoying actually, to the point where I felt they were stalking me!)

I do not have any fear, however, that I will not be a decent, if not a better-than-average attorney. While good verbal skills are probably a great asset for a lawyer, being 100% fluent...or even 80% fluent is not required. I had a lawyer once who I thought was a complete idiot and, though he did not stutter, I felt his communication skills were on par with Billy Bob Thornton from the film "Sling Blade." He was uncomfortable in front of clients, in front of the court, and he made no special effort to win anyone's confidence and was rather an anti-social individual. Yet, despite this, he was a very successful attorney.

I, on the other hand, am a big-mouthed, opinionated person who loves to talk even though in some situations, I stutter pretty badly. I believe that people pick up on my confidence and they quickly ignore the hesitations, stammerings, and other aspects of my speech that display my stutter. If I am at a particularly difficult block...MOST PEOPLE simply wait with me and act as if nothing happened. And that's because, mostly, in professional settings, once I can get it out, I act as if nothing happened...and I think that lets them off the hook, as well. If I act all apologetic and uncomfortable...chances are, they might want to avoid future communication, so as to avoid that situation in the future. People will respond to your discomfort if you show being uncomfortable themselves. If you act like it's no big deal, chances are, they will feel like it's no big deal.

Listen, people with all sorts of debilitating disabiities and afflictions overcome enormous obstacles to go on to do things that even fully functional people aren't able to do. Helen Keller, born blind, deaf, and dumb (mute) went on to be one of the most brilliant scholars in history and travelled the world, sharing her experiences. For crying out loud, she couldn't SEE, HEAR, or SPEAK. But, she did not let this stand in her way. Stuttering cannot even come close to being compared to what she overcame in her personal life.

The truth is: you can accomplish almost anything you set your mind to do. I am agnostic, but there is a Bible verse that I enjoy that says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." There is much truth to that. Mostly, people are the way they are because they really just want to be that way. When you want to will. But you won't change until you are determined to.

Stuttering can't hold you back from being a success in life...unless you allow it to. Understand, there are certain things that will be completely out of your control. Chances are, I'll never be an award-winning newscaster (ss if I wanted to be). So, knowing your limitations is important. However, don't borrow limitations. Don't assume you will be limited in this way or in that way...or in one situation or another. It's better to have some determination, make a noble attempt to accomplish the thing you want to accomplish...and then see what happens. At worst, if you fail, you can live with the knowledge that you damn well tried. And that is no failure, by anyone's standard.

I can't imagine that someone with even a chronic, severe stutter cannot go on to be a lawyer, a doctor, a dentist, a writer, a scientist...almost anything you can imagine. So, it. I think you may surprise even yourself.


jess said...

Hi there, I just read your comment which intrigued me, I current live in the UK and I work for a law firm and I am also hoping to qualify as a lawyer too. I also suffer from a stutter which sometimes is a lot worse some days and other days I canbe completely fluent, however the advantage I have is god made me hot and beautiful and a very sexy women but forgot to give me gift of speaking fluently. I do find it very had however I try and work ten times hardefr to acheive my goals. Some days i feel as though it gets me really down as there are some task which I feel as though I can not perform to the best of my abiity because when under pressure the stammer gets to you, however I have done well so far and my employers seem to very sympathic however I do sometimes getvery doswn about my stammer but I will tell you this dont let it hold back it does not mean that you are different to anyone else believe me we all have out inperfections and thats just how life is - i am sure you will do wel keep up the work. If you need any advice support you can email me at

Anonymous said...

wha's up fellow speech deficient person [say that twice], your article was very inspiring. i've changed my career prospects a few times because of my stuttering. i settled for a truck driving career; i don't deal with the public, enjoy the panorama and it's a stable career.Maybe i took an easier out but i like what i do. Never know what is on the other side of the bend until we take it.

Sapnomoy Chattopadhyay said...

m too a damn stuterrer.. if any idea or advice for me u have do give me.. i also wanna seek my career as a lawyer... u can contact me ..

Sapnomoy Chattopadhyay said...

by d way m frm India.. nyc to meet u.. sum1 like me.. and i kept on thinking m d only 1 like this...