You Are Worthy – McKenzie Jemmett

McKenzie JemmetAbout 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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You Are Worthy – McKenzie Jemmett — 37 Comments

  1. McKenzie, I too have similar thoughts and experiences like you describe. The encouragement you provide is crucial for one to foster resilient thinking. Thank you for this much needed reminder that we who stutter are worthy.

  2. Very eloquent McKenzie.
    Appreciate you discussing such an important issue as feeling worthy in various ways with great expressiveness.
    Certainly encouraging for many.

  3. Yes!! I love this idea as it all comes back to the feelings of self love because when you have that, rejection does not impact you because you know your worth. This resonates with me so much because I used to have lot more self hate than self love and was a game changer when I was finally able to start to love myself more for who I am and what I stand for.

    The fundamental question I have for you though is how have you found that great feeling of self love that many of us are searching for?

  4. Dear McKenzie

    Thank you so much for writing about this important topic, and with such eloquence.

    Your message – “YOU ARE WORTHY… and you deserve a seat at the table” – is possibly the most important one anyone will hear in their lives, as believing this (not just feeling it) is a basis for getting out of our own way (as a dear friend once taught me).

    Thank you.


  5. hello McKenzie,
    thank you for sharing such an impactful story and lesson that you have shared. YOU ARE WORTHY and confidence is so important to realize your worth even in a conversation and what you have to say is important. what are some key ways that you would help you or PWS feel more confident or when speaking?
    thank you,

    • Thanks for your comment Dania! I think it starts with believing you do have something to contribute to the conversation, and that comes with self-love. Finding things about yourself that you love, things that aren’t related to appearance or even talents. Who are you as a person? Are you compassionate? Do you care deeply for others? What defines you as a human being? When we start to see ourselves as more than a person who stutters, we can see ourselves for all the wonderful things we are and how we are worth the fight 🙂

  6. Hi McKenzie

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it was truly empowering to read. As an SLP yourself, what are some tips you have for future SLPs to help install the “you are worthy” mindset in other clients?

    • With my clients, I praise anything and everything they tell me. “Thank you for telling me about your toy car! That sounds like a super fun toy!”, “Thank you for telling me you are frustrated with the technique” etc. Bottom line, validate their feelings and help them feel that what they communicate to you is worth the world. For them it may have taken a lot of effort to express something and we need to praise that effort.

      When kiddos and clients feel listened to and understood, you build a deeper connection and can start to have those harder conversations related to their self-confidence and helping them see their own barriers to that.

      It’s not something that happens over night and you may not be the one to take them on the whole journey but you can help them be their own self-advocate and set up their support system (loved ones, friends, etc.). Let me know if you want to discuss more!

  7. Hi McKenzie!

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am studying to become an SLP in grad school and I currently see fluency clients of my own. I have a young student now who does seem defeated by his stuttering. What is your advice for someone who thinks stuttering defines who they are? Or what advice would you give those who don’t feel worthy because of their disfluencies?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Sarah!

      I mentioned some things in the comments above. The main point I would focus on is how stuttering isn’t the only thing ‘interesting’ about a person.
      You could talk about things he likes doing? Playing basketball? Jumping in puddles? The longer and sillier the list the better.

      Then start a conversation about how he is so much more than just how he talks… He is all those things that he loves. Then I’d also look at his support system (parents, friends etc.) and provide some education on providing an accepting environment and them validating his feelings about his speech.

      Helping him not feel alone in his struggle is also going to help lots. Possibly you could psuedostutter on the phone with him present? He could write out how he wants you to stutter and then discuss the feelings of it after.

      In the end, the conversations revolve around ‘Yes I do stutter but that isn’t the only interesting thing about me… I have so much more to offer and the right people will accept me for all that I am”

      If any of this doesn’t make sense let me know 🙂

  8. Everyone is worthy to sit at the table. In this world not one person is the same, we all have our differences some invisible others visible. That is the beauty of the world we live in, no one is the same. I know for some people, unfortunately, it is hard to accept the differences in people but that is truly based on ignorance. As an SLP graduate student, I make sure my clients and others I encounter know they are worthy in my eyes. I work hard to show them how worthy they are to me because I also know how it feels to be unworthy. Thank you for your article and McKenzie…

    you are worthy to me!


  9. Mckenzie what a great post!! I too have struggled with feeling worthy and acceptance. I’ve worked very hard and now see that I Am Enough as I am. How others react to you is a reflection of their own reality and we really shouldn’t take it personally. Hard at times though 😉
    I love that you now accept you as you and love yourself because of that. ❤️

    • Thank you for your comment! I also feel that this isn’t a one time journey… As we change and grow, we have to accept ourselves for all the things that change about us. Love the thought that others reactions are a reflection of their reality! Never thought of it that way!

  10. Mckenzie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experience. As a studying graduate clinician, it is imperative for me to understand the emotional aspects of stuttering. My fluency class has taught me that there is so much more happening than the physical aspects of a stutter. Learning about your experience has reminded me that everyone has their differences and they do not make you any less worthy of all the good things life has to offer. Thank you for sharing!

    • The important thing is to help your clients understand that too… With any communication disorder individuals feel different and not a part of the rest of the world and a part of our job is to help them feel connected 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  11. Hello McKenzie!

    This is super empowering! I can only imagine the sense of relief that you feel now that you know who you are and your worth. Now as an SLP yourself, how has finding worthiness changed or impacted the way you help your clients and have you noticed a positive outcome with your clients cause of it? Hope to hear from you soon. 🙂

    • The biggest thing is I’m not in own head so much. I used to very worried about what my clients or their families thought about me… I still do but it’s not related to my stuttering or how I talk but more so that I want them to succeed. I can be more in the moment with my clients and am a more present therapist and person 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  12. McKenzie, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am currently a graduate student pursuing my master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. As a future clinician, do you have any advice on how I can help my clientele feel worthy to “sit at the table?”

    • Hey! If you look above, there are some comments where I address some of this. Honestly this doesn’t happen overnight and not once in a person’s life. It starts with having your feelings validated and understanding that we all have things that make us different. A big part for me was talking with other people who stutter and sharing our stories.
      Thanks for your comment!

  13. Hi McKenzie,
    I am studying to be a SLP and your story is so empowering, ‘you are worthy’ is such a strong and important message for those who stutter. I would love to hear from you how future clinician’s can work to instill this in our future clients. Also, did you have someone by your side throughout your journey to help you feel worthy and support you? If so, I would love to know who! Looking forward to your response and thank you for sharing this amazing story.

    • Hey!
      I mention some of these things above but something I would add that you elude to is to create a support system to remind you that you are worthy. For me, I have had different people on my journey. Mainly my Mom, and a few friends. They each played a part in different times in my life. The main barrier to creating a support system is being ashamed to talk about stuttering and how it affects a person. Those conversations not only breed validation but support and understanding for later down the road. This concept is related to being a self-advocate which we can do for all our clients with communication disorders!!
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  14. Hi McKenzie!

    I am an undergraduate student taking a fluency class this semester. I love what you said about everyone being worthy… changing your mindset can be so difficult but it really is invaluable. Since you are an SLP, can I ask if there were any experiences that made you want to pursue speech language pathology? Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • That’s a great question! Looking back on my education… At first I wanted to go into Psychology because I wanted to understand the brain and how things worked with our emotions. But I also wanted to learn more about my speech. I was at the point in my journey when I thought stuttering was something I did as a child and didn’t do that any more (I was considered a ‘covert’ stutterer as I hid from social situations etc.).

      Looking back on where I was at, I think I didn’t know what was going on in my mind and I desperately wanted answers but I didn’t know where to go as I believed that I didn’t actually have a stutter. With some tough moments and conversations with friends and faculty members, I realized that I did still stutter and had been running from it as I hadn’t set up a support system when I exited therapy.

      It was a messy road but definitely helped me come out better on the other side 🙂
      Thanks for your comment and question!

  15. Hi!

    I’m an undergraduate student studying communication sciences. Thank you so much for sharing your story! After reading I do have one question: as a PWS, how do you approach fluency therapy with stuttering clients, while also making sure that they feel comfortable, accepted, and worthy of love/respect?

  16. Hi Mckenzie! Yes! You are worthy! Your message is true and very powerful! You deserve a seat at the table. Although it must be challenging, stay strong. Keep fighting for being included. Fight for yourself and for others since you are in a position to help others. Even though I am not a person who stutters, I understand your story because I too struggle to feel accepted and worthy. I always try to please others. What do you recommend for your clients who experience these negative feelings?

  17. Hi McKenzie! I read through your post and the other comments and just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts. I had some questions that came up while reading your post but you addressed a lot of what I was thinking in your replies to comments. I really appreciated how you mentioned validating people’s feelings and letting them know that you value what they have to say. Everyone should have a seat at the table.

    Your name sounds so familiar! Did you go to Idaho State University? I’m in my second year of the SLP grad program in Pocatello. 🙂

  18. Hi McKenzie,

    I loved this post and comments that followed discussing the importance of targeting feelings of inadequacy at a young age in therapy. Sometimes it is easy to forget that SLPs are responsible for more than speech therapy- counseling is a big part. I read your comments above about how emphasizing that stuttering is not the most interesting part about your clients- we have learned a lot about mindfulness exercises, such as mindful breathing, loving kindness meditation, etc. I know these are commonly used when feeling anxious and often help with stress/feelings of inadequacy in myself. Have you used techniques such as these with your clients? If you have, do you think that they are beneficial to use in therapy with individuals who stutter?

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts, they have provided great insight!

  19. WOW! I just loved your post! I chose to read your post based on the title, and I am sure glad I did. You described feelings I had felt about being dyslexic. When I was in school, I don’t remember telling any of my teachers about my feels and I wish I would have. How do you create an open space for your clients so that they can express those feelings to you?

  20. Hi McKenize!
    I loved reading about your story! I love how you are able to connect with your students on speech disorders as an SLP. You are truly inspiring!

  21. Hello McKenize,

    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your reflections. What you said really resonated with me and I am sure with many other people as well. As a SLP do you feel that PWS should instead of speech therapy receive counseling that focuses the impact stuttering?

    Hitfan Kurtu

  22. Hello McKenzie!

    First off, I want to say thank you for being so open and vulnerable about your feelings. Though I am sure we face different individual challenges in our lives, it is incredibly comforting and validating to know that I am not alone. It is so funny to me that the sort of theme in your message is worthiness because ‘worthy’ has been a big word for me the last year. I was listening to a podcast today that said “you are worthy just by living” and then I read what you shared and once again, it was reiterated that “you are worthy.” I needed this. I hope to always help others to feel worthy as you do.

    Thank you!

  23. Thank you for sharing your light bulb moment and encouraging others to see their self-worth. I agree that fostering an environment of acceptance and empowerment helps others feel safe to acknowledge their own self-worth. When you are caught up in the moment, how do you fight the feelings of low self-worth to remind yourself you are worthy?

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