Now, imagine that it isn’t a dream. Imagine that, for a moment, the world gets to see you and all your bare humanity. How do you feel?
I feel petrified, or at least that’s how I felt as I stared at my laptop screen 5 days ago, in the wee hours of the morning. Jonathan had sent over advance access to the Good Life Project interview that would be aired in the morning, and I was watching the interview with headphones stuffed into my ears as Jeremy peacefully snored away in the other room.
In the morning, the video would be sent out to Jonathan’s tribe of avid fans and posted for the world to see on YouTube.
I had just gone very, very public with my stutter.
I had no idea how everyone would react. Would they hate it? Would my inbox be filled with vitriol? Would I be laughed at or criticized?
All the negative thoughts were chased by more hopeful ones. Would it comfort some people? Would it start to change the conversation about what is normal, about what it means to stutter? Would it inspire others to be fearless, to embrace whatever vulnerability they were dealing with?
I slept fitfully and woke up feeling hung-over, the image of my own face blocking, repeating and smiling etched into my mind’s eye.
By the time the interview was posted, I had readied myself for every bad reaction I could imagine.
And yet, in the past few days, my fears haven’t been realized. Not even close. Instead, I have been shocked by the messages I received full of nothing but support and gratitude. I have opened incredible emails and messages from strangers, from businessmen and mothers, from friends and people I barely know. I am still in awe of their kindness.
As one of them said, “I can’t imagine how hard it is to have something so personal so public. But I bet it is liberating!”
Liberating is a good word for it. Vulnerable and strong and never cowed. It was how I wanted people to see the book, the pieces that I had been struggling to express in the title.
Just before the video was posted, I heard from my editor. The publisher had given the thumbs up to our title: Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice.
What do you think?