The concept of authenticity in relation to stuttering is one that I often encounter in my own experience with stuttering and with other PWS. When asked, most people would tell you that they want to lead an “authentic” life, but what does authenticity actually look like and how does stuttering factor into the equation?
For a long time I believed that stuttering was a major threat to my authenticity, that it was at cross-purposes with the person I wanted to be. I was covert for many years, but when the stress of submerging this part of myself became too burdensome, I came to the somewhat ironic realization that by trying to become my authentic self through achieving perfect fluency, I had actually done the opposite: I was hiding, making myself small, and not allowing others to really know me. At this point I told myself that that the only way to be truly authentic was to stutter openly all the time. This too, however, proved to be very difficult after years of covert programming, and I would feel guilty for occasionally slipping back into my old covert habits.
It took me awhile to recognize that my black and white thinking (either being covert and inauthentic, overt and authentic, or vice versa) wasn’t a helpful way to approach my relationship to stuttering. There is no right or wrong way to be a person who stutters, and we each get to choose which approach will allow us to feel most empowered in any given time or situation. Now, when I think about living an authentic life as a PWS, I try to honestly ask myself what my personal values are, and aim to make choices that align with those values, regardless of how stuttering might (or might not) factor in.
What does authenticity in the context of being a PWS look like for you, personally? In what situations do you feel most authentic while speaking and in life? Do you ever feel that you are not being true to yourself? How do we as PWS know when we are being our most authentic selves?
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
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