No, I’m not a “stutterer,” I just happen to speak with one sometimes…
I have stuttered for as long as I can remember but I don’t think of myself as a stutterer, not anymore. I am many things; an actuary, part time piano player, lifetime learner, an intrepid explorer that still has dreams of becoming an astronaut, passionate about the education of children and a number of other things that are far more interesting to me than stuttering. So I am not a stutterer, I just happen to speak with one sometimes.
Over many years I have achieved a fluency most of the time that allows me to speak comfortably in the Board room or in front of an audience of hundreds. There are however still difficult days where every conversation is a challenge.
Stuttering can become an obsession, which is understandable given that our spoken words are the most direct way we interact with our friends, family, colleagues and the world around us. For those of us with a stutter, it becomes a constant focus and our brains work overtime either trying to avoid, hide, or get around it in some way.
We start to let our stutter take over our identities. This is where I found myself until I started work with my speech therapist at AIS who helped change the way I think about my stutter and more meaningfully, about myself. I learnt to focus on every other quality that I bring to my interactions, especially my passion and desire to connect. So not only did my stutter start to recede into the background of my consciousness, I also became able to better express myself and have now found a deep sense of certainty and composure that comes from knowing exactly who I am, and comfortably showing this to the world.
So I am not a stutterer, I just happen to speak with one sometimes. While being awesome.
Thomas Olunloyo is an actuary from the UK, who now lives and works in Bermuda.