I get super excited when I meet other people who stutter. Like, really excited. So, I could hardly stop smiling when one of my editors told me about a meeting I'd been invited to with a few bigwigs at the company.
"One of the editors we're meeting with has a stutter too! So you'll get to meet him," he said.
In true CiCi fashion, I did the absolute most. For the next week I gushed to my mom and my close friends about how there's another stutterer at the company, an editor nonetheless, and how I'd get to meet him.
When the time came for the meeting, my boss and I moseyed on down to the conference room. I'll admit, I was more focused on meeting my fellow stutterer than discussing the work matter at hand. He struggled when introducing himself and did so nearly every time he spoke afterward -- it was so dope!
Of course, I stuttered more severely than he, but I didn't care. For the first time ever, I spoke during a meeting -- and I did so without an inkling of anxiety or worry. It was awesome. My stutter is most troublesome at work, as I've expressed to you all before. And, for some reason, it was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders when I heard a stuttering journalist, in a way more powerful position than mine, stuttering so openly and freely.
I didn't know this before, but I needed that situation. Being a stuttering journalist is difficult and requires a tremendous amount of bravery each day. Although I know there are other stutterers in my field, seeing it up close made the fact more real.
I sat with my editor and the other higher-ups discussing digital media and, much to my surprise, the stuttering journalist led the conversation. He asked most of the questions, gave a lot of input and didn't seem to flinch when he had moments of blocks, repetitions and other disfluencies.
Because of that, I opened up in the meeting in a way I hadn't before. I stuttered like a fool; I'm talking, blocks, repetitions, funny faces and all -- and it was amazing.
I left not feeling embarrassed, ashamed or awkward, but feeling like I actually contributed and did so confidently. I was proud of myself. My editor and I even chatted with the stuttering journalist afterward and I spoke as openly as I did in the meeting.
It's great to know that I'm not alone as a stutterer in my field. And, even better, it's great to know there's a stuttering journalist closer than I thought.
I hope I meet more people with my condition throughout my career. I didn't know I needed that encounter so much, so it's only fair that I assume other stuttering journalists may need it too.