Ken Bevers is one of our coaches on the US program. He is inspirational to all his students and continues to follow directions and work on his speech.
As a covert stuttered, I often tried to hide my stuttering from the world. As a result, I always felt like I was making this huge sacrifice that few people knew about. I thought, if I switch the words around here or don’t speak at this time, well then I could preserve my pride and self-image. And I was right, but shame, guilt, fear, loneliness, and helplessness became my true companions. The only reward I ever received from this approach was short-term comfort and safety. The trade-off was that moments of life and opportunities for success passed me by because I sat there feeling helpless.
The time I most vividly remember this feeling of helplessness was in college. In my junior year of college, I was the President of my fraternity and for recruitment, the event had to introduce myself in front of a large group of interested freshmen. I stood at the front of the room with the presidents from the other three fraternities waiting to introduce myself. Of course, I had to go last. When my turn came I barely managed to scrape by with a “…………Annnnd I’m Ken”. No last name. No “and I’m with Alpha Delta Gamma.” And though I should have said something else I didn’t. I was beyond embarrassed. At that moment I decided to do something about my stuttering.
Fast forward a few years of self-help seminars, fluency shaping, counselling, trying to not care, and many other approaches and I still felt helpless. Then I heard about the McGuire Program from watching a Gareth Gates video and decided to give it a try. I boarded a plane to D.C. where I was greeted by the lovely Maria McGrath and the suave Chris Cooksey.
At the end of that first course I felt so very different. The program gave me an opportunity to confront the fear I had faced for so long; the sports like approach challenged me to push out of my comfort zones and grab life and opportunity as it approached me; the support system resulted in new friendships and chances to coach other people; and the refresher courses built my confidene and strength over and over again.
Since that first course, I have found much success in what I have done. At Toastmasters, I have won awards and managed meetings. At work, I have seen increased responsibilities and begun supervising. At home, I have found enjoyment and comfort from knowing that I don’t have to hide anymore. But, I have also met challenges. They say that nothing good comes easy and they are right. Yet I have overcome these challenges and, as a result, my view of the entire world has changed. What used to be hard lines of helplessness and permanency became malleable lines of hope and temporariness. My stuttering was no longer an inescapable set of chains, but a tool to move forward in life. I found passion and purpose every day and I found myself becoming who I truly was all of those years.
This sea of change all started with the day that I decided to step out onto what felt like nothing. And now I am able to go beyond stuttering…to a place where I am moving forward and living my life on my own terms. I hope you take that step. If you do, nothing will ever be the same.