Written by Konsta
I started stuttering around the age of 2. I’m now turning 21.
The first time I heard about the Finnish Stuttering Association was a bit over 6 months ago, when my speech therapist told me about it.
Tells you a bit about the awareness of stuttering and the things regarding it, even for people who stutter.
Anyway, I read about the Youth Exchange in Italy two years ago, and immediately applied for the next exchange. As my luck had it, the Finnish group was full, and I didn’t get in. BUT someone got sick, I was in the reserve and ska-dam. I’ve never been that happy and anxious at the same time.
Fast forward to the actual camp: I have an anxiety disorder, so talking to new people, especially in English, is a bit hard for me. During that camp? Ask the participants, I couldn’t stop talking.
Our group (of 40 people) was so open, you could talk about anything and they’d understand. We had so many late nights talks about everything.
The workshops, and the people organizing them, were amazing.
The National Evenings were super fun, and the activity in general was super fun.
I’ve never felt that happy in my life. Finally, I could speak the way I wanted to, not giving it a second thought or receiving negative feedback or looks from the others, cause we all have the same condition, it didn’t matter how you spoke. I could finally, truly, be the person I wanted to be, even if it was only for a week.
I found, through others, the courage to give speeches (which btw I’ve always been terrified of) and to present myself for the whole group. I, in total, gave about a few dozens ”speeches”, and the feedback I got from them? Oh man, they made me so emotional. Because of these, I finally found my passion: presenting myself.
I held a speech to over 50 people and cried during it. I didn’t feel ashamed, I felt comfortable.
And I got into the local newspaper. Seriously, what the hell, I can do that?
What I learned
Living with a stutter isn’t easy, and I’d go as far as to say being a friend of a stutterer isn’t easy. Does that make them belove average people? Fuck no.
Many of the participants were pretty silent at the start of the camp, some were more talkative than others. At the end of the week, they talked like they’ve never had trouble speaking, there was so much energy, motivation to talk, courage and joy in them. Seeing them grow, and overcome their fears, it made me super proud.
Just because they got the chance to do it. And that chance, that feeling is something I’d wish all stutterers could have in their everyday lives.
The awareness is pretty sloppy to be honest, but that is what, for example, Stamily is for. To spread awareness and our stories.
Because of this exchange, I’m confident about my speech and my English, I have 40 new friends all around the world, that camp was the missing piece, the lamp that lit up, the motivation I needed.
And I think everyone needs that, whether you’re a stutterer or not. (But we’re focusing on the stutterers now, heh) When I told about the camp to my friends and family, they were actually jealous that they didn’t stutter. Have you ever heard anyone say that they’re jealous because they can speak properly? Probably not.
If they can get jealous of us, then I’d say we’re pretty much above normal.
We are different, after all speaking is normal thing to do, we just can’t do it properly. It’s annoying as hell, but we should still keep pushing ourselves. Take that mindset you had at the camp, and bring it to your normal life. Don’t stop pushing, we all have the desire to go forward, and our stutter should make it stronger.
As Willie did, I’m going to end this post with a part of my Instagram post I made about the exchange:
”Living with stutter isn’t easy, and this camp made me know that I wasn’t alone with the issue. I want you all to stay strong, you can do it. I want you all to look forward to the future, you deserve more than you can imagine. And I want you all to feel proud of yourselves, of the things you did, cause you did a lot. I’m grateful for your help, and I’m so happy that I got the be a part of this group. Thank you, all of you <3”