Victorious people

by Gokce Baser

I wish I could write these words in my own language. It's very hard to express one's feelings in another language. I'm Turkish and I've been living in the United States for several years. I came for my graduate degree.

I stuttered all my life, until I was 22 years old. My father was also a stutterer, but I never heard him having a block, or a stuttering moment. His friends say that he outgrew from it when he was 18 years old. They say he sang for hours to the Mediterrenean Sea, and he read poems outloud, and he was over it. In Turkey we didn't have speech therapists, I went to a couple of psychologists, then I went to college and one of my professors referred me to Melda Kunduk, my dearest friend and therapist.

My family and I always believed that I'd outgrow my stuttering, just like my father did. When I was 18, I graduated from a very reputable high school in Turkey. I was accepted into 1st ranked university, but the stuttering was still there.

Well, then college years... I always hated my stuttering but I can not say that it stopped me from achieving anything that I really wanted to achieve.. I always dated the most handsome guys, I always had good grades, I got a very nice advertising job in a very reputable advertising network, and by that time one thing led to the other and by the age 22 my stuttering disappeared... I have to admit, I was very happy about that. I enjoyed every moment in my life. I gave speeches in public. Many non-stutterers are afraid of speaking in public, but when I spoke fluently I had no FEAR. I could speak for hours, making jokes, and feeling successful. But I have to admit, after being fluent for a year, I started feeling anxious about other things about my presentations. After all, although I was speaking fluently I wasn't very happy about my choice of words, or grammar or the way I expressed something. But even when I tried, I couldn't stutter... People didn't believe me when I told them I used to stutter.

In 1999 I came to the US and I started stuttering again last year, after I got a job as an Intern in a large corporation. This month I earned my MBA degree and I am moving to NY. These days I think a lot about my stuttering because I'm looking for a job. As a foreigner, I cannot write as good as an American, I cannot speak like a non-stutterer and they have to sponsor a visa for me. In spite of that, I'm sure I'll find something in a little while, because other than these 3 negative things I have a lot to offer that others cannot.

The reason I wrote about myself is as a person that has been a stutterer then a non-stutterer and back to stutterer is to tell you that I think it's OK to be a stutterer. And it's still hard to find a job when you are not stuttering, and the bad thing about that is you cannot blame it on your stuttering, you have to admit to yourself that someone else got the job in a fair game. I'm not saying that I fancy stuttering, but personally I cannot say that it hurt me really badly at any time in my life. I am a happy person who has a good life. I can even say that stuttering made me appreciate things in life. It gave me the chance to get to know myself. It made me understand that although some things seem not good at first, they may be the best thing that happened to you.

I sometimes think to myself, "Do I have any other problems than being a stutterer?", and I usually cannot find anything. Most of the stutterers I met in therapy or clubs are happy, intelligent, funny and sophisticated people. When I'm frustrated with my stuttering, I ask "God, why me? Come on, open my vocal cords and set me free. I'll do anything to stop my stuttering"... Then I think to myself, that's a big lie. I don't want to change anything in my life, I just want to get rid of my stuttering. But if this is a price I have to pay in order to get happiness, intelligence, sophistication, I think I'm getting a good deal in this life. It's a very minor thing and I think it makes me unique,. We have to appreciate who we are, and be thankful for other things that we have. And the best thing I like about stuttering is when you achieve something, you can say "although I was a stutterer I did this." Who else has a chance to feel as if they conquered a continent when they can ask the time fluently?

added August 11, 2001