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Demosthenes weekend in the NL

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

Vulnerability – connection – strength

Last weekend I spent an interesting time at the StayOkay hotel in Dordrecht with the Dutch Stuttering Assocation Demosthenes. A couple of days of interesting workshops, inspiring conversations and overall fun with people who stutter.

To me stuttering is part of my identity. Even though I am still figuring out who ‘I’ really am and what I want in life, I have already come to the realization that stuttering is an essential part of ‘me’, something I would not want to leave behind. Because for all the troubles it has brought me over the years (I have stuttered since I could speak), it has brought me many great things as well.

During one the workshops last weekend, we were asked to get together in small groups and discuss the good things that have come from stuttering. In our group, we combined our experiences into three keywords: vulnerability, connection and strength. Let’s look deeper into these words, because I feel that they can mean a lot not just to people who stutter, but people who want to communicate in general.

Vulnerability: being able to show your weaknesses to others and lowering your defences. We are often used to only showing our strengths, since we feel we have to compete with others for jobs, recources and partners. If we appear stronger than someone else, we will prevail. But we all have our weaknesses and by being open about them, we can show our true selves. And that is so much more interesting than the perfect picture of ourselves we would like to present to others.

Connection: truly connecting with someone can only happen when we are willing to show our true selves. Not the Facebook/LinkedIn version of who we would like to be or how we want the world to see us, but the true ‘me’. With all your imperfections and flaws. When we are willing to show who we really are (by being vulnerable), we can better connect with others.

Strength: this basically means something you are good at. Of course there is nothing wrong with having strengths! The strength to really connect with others by showing how vulnerable you are, is something special. This is not a strength that you should brag about, but simply put it into practice.

Last weekend showed me once more how good it feels to open up and to listen to others opening up about things that trouble them and weigh heavy on their minds, whether related to stuttering or something completely different. By opening up and showing our vulnerabilities, we were able to connect with each other. And that is something I wish everything to experience every now and then.

There will always be competition in the world, for recources, jobs and for that one guy or girl at the bar who we would all like to take home. But maybe the way to take that person home with you is not by sitting next to them and showing off how star spangled awesome you are, but by showing that you are vulnerable and that you have flaws. Then you might be able to connect, truly connect, with this person. Therein lies your strength.

Please feel free to comment below on how you feel about this, whether you approve or not. Let’s not forget, you don’t have to show of your perfect self on Facebook. Even here, you can open up.

Rik Mets

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