About the Author:
McKenzie Jemmett M.S., CCC-SLP, COM is an individual who stutters and currently works as a School Speech Language Pathologist in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has been involved with the stuttering community for numerous years and serves as a host for Stutter Social. She enjoys teaching Zumba, trying new recipes, exploring new outdoor adventures and connecting with others from around the world.
For the past year I have had the opportunity to volunteer and act as a Stutter Social host. During that time, I have talked with numerous individuals who stutter and heard their stories. I remember the first time I hosted on my own I felt like an imposter, like I had no right to be in the meeting or let alone being the host. My thoughts went something like “What do I have to offer that could help anyone else?” or “Who do you think you are… you have nothing to offer”. As time went on, I felt moments of acceptance and connection with others… like I was worthy of ‘having a seat at the table.’ However these moments were fleeting and only happened when I was in the meeting and were felt for only a few minutes after.
In a recent meeting the course of the conversation came to this train of thought. It went something like, “While I have many skills, why am I self-conscious or have no confidence in myself”. Up until this point I had never thought about it in this regard and it felt like a light bulb coming on. If I do have all of these things ‘working’ for me, then why do I lack the confidence to do something with it? It dawned on me that the biggest hurdle to my communication and my life journey was not my stuttering but feeling that I was unworthy of human connection.
As I have thought about it more, all I have ever wanted is to feel accepted by others without changing what or who I am. The origin of this feeling could be due to multiple things but at the end of the day, I think that is something we all want. The struggle with ‘feeling accepted’ is I can’t control what other people do or say. This begs the question, “How do I help myself feel accepted regardless of outside influences?”
Since that meeting, I have thought a lot about this concept of acceptance and what the missing piece of the equation is. In the end it came back to worthiness. For example: when someone mistreats me because I stutter, I believe their words because I don’t think it’s unjust and that all I deserve is negative reactions. In a nutshell, I believe that I am less than others and by extension, not worthy of fighting for or being included.
On the flip side, when I believe that I am worthy of love and connection, those negative reactions don’t hold any bearing on my heart. If I feel I am worthy, then I will work to find others who value me for who I am and not degrade me to how I talk. Or even in the face of negative reactions, I have love and compassion for myself in the understanding that regardless of what others think, I am worthy of all the good things life has to offer.
That is the change I want to see in the world… that we recognize that we are worthy to ‘sit at the table’ and work to foster relationships and an environment that enable us to feel that way. When we bring that understanding to any situation, not only will we feel empowered but we also give permission for others to feel worthy as well. So again I repeat…
YOU ARE WORTHY… and you deserve a seat at the table.
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