I got up this morning feeling determined. I had a bit of an easy ride yesterday compared to my peers, so today I wanted to fully get into my role of stammerer.
In the morning I went to the post office to p..p..pick up a parcel, which went quite well. The man was quite apologetic already because he had served someone else before me, not realising that I’d been waiting for ages. This made me feel more in control of the interaction and have the ‘upper hand’ so to speak. I stammered throughout the interaction and he responded in a helpful way; not interrupting, waiting for me to finish my sentences and not looking annoyed or patronising.
In the afternoon I had to go to Argos to buy a kettle and then to Boots. I felt alright in Argos and the cashier didn’t treat me any differently to a fluent speaker, but in Boots as I approached the cash desk I was really considering chickening out. I was buying a weird selection of items and wanted to buy them as quickly as possible, and not draw attention to myself. But I told myself that people with a stammer don’t have the option to suddenly speak fluently so nor should I…
I won’t lie – the whole interaction was pretty horrible. I made it a lot worse for myself by getting really flustered and dropping things. I only had to say a few words: ‘hello’, ‘can I have a bag’, ‘yes’, ‘thank you’, but they sounded painful and awkward and I felt INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. I found it difficult to make eye contact with the cashier so I don’t know what expression she was making but I was imagining her making a really pitiful face (although I’m sure she wasn’t).
I’ve realised this is something I have a bit of an issue with – wanting people to think that I am a totally in-control normal person who will breeze through interactions confidently and buy embarrassing things from Boots without a blink of an eyelid. But actually I sometimes find social interactions quite awkward and stressful, and using my fluency is a really good way to cover up my awkwardness and make myself appear more confident than I really feel.
Tomorrow will be interesting – I have a doctor’s appointment and a job interview!