"Char! I need you to make some phone calls."
I was minding my own business, working on an article when I heard my boss yell the words from across the room.
"Char will get a good quote," he continued.
A colleague of mine was working on an article and my boss rushed over to my desk excited, asking me to do some reporting for the story.
Hmm, I thought. Out of all the fluent speakers in the office, my boss picked lil 'ol me (a stutterer) to conduct a few phone interviews.
I swelled with pride.
This isn't the first time one of my bosses has tapped me to flex my verbal skills and work my charm in an interview. But in this particular situation, I could not help but recall one day during my first month on the job nearly two years go.
My boss once asked me if I was physically able to conduct phone interviews, (you can read about that here😊 ) he began with a “please forgive me for asking this,” of course. Now, more than a year later, that same boss is excitedly declaring that I "will get a good quote."
I was surprised to hear him make such a declaration. It seemed that, inherently, I believed my bosses were as apprehensive about my stutter as I sometimes am.
A few weeks before this, I was speaking with one of my editors. She revealed to me a conversation she had with another editor, he had bragged about how I "power through" interviews, phone calls, meetings etc. with my stutter. He had even told her that they are my "specialty."
Hearing that warmed my heart. I didn't know my bosses thought of me that way, or that they had voiced those opinions to the other higher-ups. To be honest, I did not believe they thought so highly of me in regard to my speech.
As if these experiences weren't enough to boost my confidence, another editor, in a mass email, asked me to do some investigative work, remarking that I could "find a polar bear in a snowstorm."
Among many lessons, these experiences have taught me this: Sometimes other people see things in us that we don't see in ourselves.
When it comes to my stutter and my work, I've spent a lot of time "overcoming," "powering through" and believing that, because of my speech, my efforts were always just enough to be just as good as everyone else -- nothing special or extraordinary.
But I've come to learn that to my colleagues and editors, my skills and abilities are extraordinary. Without even realizing it, I had come to believe that because of my speech, my skills would always be and would always be viewed as mediocre -- or just good enough.
Now, I wonder what would happen if I believed I could be extraordinary even with a stutter. I've been working on that lately. As wonderful as it was to receive these compliments from those that I work with, I want to believe in myself just as much -- if not more -- than the people around me do.
I don't want to wait on others to confirm my skills, gifts, talents and value before I do so myself. And I believe everyone, both stutters and fluent speakers, should do the same -- stop waiting. Stop waiting for permission to believe in yourself.