"I like communicating with people," says Ray Demnitz, a 20-year-old from New York City.
Demnitz is the subject of "I Have a Stutter," the latest video in an enlightening new series called 60 Second Docs. In only a minute, he shares insight into not only the difficulties that go along with stuttering, but also the positive aspects that non-stuttering people may not understand.
"The hardest part of stuttering is not the physical stutter. It's the mental and emotional baggage that comes along with it," Demnitz says in the video, adding that when people hear him speak for the first time, he worries they're not seeing the real him.
But Demnitz hasn't let fear of first impressions hold him back. "From my experience, the people who are most comfortable with their stutter are those who accept it fully as an aspect of themselves, instead of trying to change or 'cure' their stutter," he told A Plus.
Ray is an EMT who likes to help people and, contrary to what you may expect, he believes that stuttering has actually improved his skills of communication, making him "a better listener" and "more thoughtful."
This has been an asset for his job. "I often deal with patients who are anxious about their situation, or depressed, or just plain starved for human interaction," he says. "At the level of care I am currently trained for, most of the time being a good person to talk to is all I can do."
That doesn't mean it's been an easy journey. "For me, it is an insanely difficult thing to accept about myself."
He adds that he "was in and out of speech therapy for a long time," and though he hasn't been recently, he praises the American Institute for Stuttering for its methods.
"I felt like they really focus on self-acceptance and effective communication over fluency techniques and stuttering less," he says. "They taught me that it is more important to stutter well than it is to stutter less, and I am very grateful to them for that."
Demnitz's choice to embrace what makes him different, despite the challenges that go along with it, is inspiring for anyone finding it hard to accept themselves, whether it's because of stuttering or anything else.
"It feels like me," he says of his stutter. And isn't that how all of us should feel?