April 2nd, 2016
“My story started when I was a child. Being born and brought up in a joint family in Udaipur, it added a lot of positives to my life. But also a lot of negatives, which still gives me goosebumps. In spite of being brought up in a good family, I always had to undergo the pressure of competition, whether it was related to marksheets, or co-curricular activities etc.
When I was two and started talking, my parents had realized that I have a speech-related problem to an extent of stammering. However, I was told that it’s temporary and might go away as I will grow up. My life moved on and the complications and comparisons increased and eventually with that pressure, my speech went worse and I became a stutter.
You see, all throughout my childhood, I have lived with one of the biggest fears. The fear of not being able to speak because of my stuttering. I have held myself back from certain opportunities so that I can avoid speaking. As a child, I went through speech classes which involved speaking to therapists. I have been told to slow down my speech and to breathe while speaking, something that is physically impossible. I was told that I’d never be able overcome stuttering.
The biggest fear started when your friends and family also start making fun of your speech. I started to feel secluded and inclined myself towards my love for music. I still remember my father giving me an instrument every year on my birthday which I use to perfect till next birthday. Eventually by the time i was 18, I perfected the art of playing 15 instruments. I also developed hobbies like, painting and singing, which helped me overcome my fear of speech. And fortunately even I had a speech issue, I never stammered while singing. So these hobbies eventually became my best friends and my superpowers. I’m a big believer of “when god gives you one thing less, he gives you another thing better than others” and it proved it well with this context.
During school presentations, I would purposely excuse myself from class to avoid oral presentations. I would approach my teachers on the first day of class about my stutter so they can accept me like the rest of their students. On Every attempt at speaking, my parents finished sentences I couldn’t complete and got angry when I tripped over words. I guess they were more disappointed rather than being angry as to why their child speaks the way he does, hence taking the blame for my speech impediment. My mother being a Psychologist and a Professor left no stones unturned to help me out with this situation and took me to various speech therapy centres across India. Being made fun of was a daily experience, I even laughed it off multiple times because I was helpless. If I showed any emotion, more kids would join the parade. I overcame that eventually, as I grew older and it bugs me in other ways.
You’re probably thinking, “Why is he writing this?” Well, I have been a firm believer of writing down things that bother me, so here it is. I have success in me, it’s in my mind, I know how to reach it, I just can’t translate it into words because I’m worried about stuttering. I will speak one day without the worry of stuttering. If you ever have the unique experience of speaking with someone who stutters, please, bear with them and never finish their sentences. Never look away while they are speaking. Never make facial remarks as this makes them more anxious. Never comfort them about their stutter and never coach them on how to overcome it. They’re trying to be like you, to speak, and to speak normally. Accept them for who they are. It might take longer for sentences to be completed and words to be said, give them the time. As time progresses, you’ll notice less stuttering, this is because they are being listened to and accepted for who they are.
The Success Story Started, Post My Completion of Schooling, I applied for a design college and got through the entrance, worked a lot on my speech with my mother before appearing for the interview, went with Confidence and told them upfront about my speech Defects and also that I will never let my creativity get affected because of my speech. I Eventually got Selected on merit with the best Design college in India (NIFT ). All my creative talent which I had acquired over the years paid off. I was determined to get over this speech disorder before I joined the college. I worked every day on the same. In the first Semester of my college, I was much better than my School days, which gave me enough motivation to stand by my will.
By the next semester, only my close friends knew about my speech disorder. I started giving my design presentations as it was an unavoidable part of our course curriculum and I couldn’t have afforded to have this degrade highlighted on my grades. But I was more confident and fearless man now. And the determination helped me eventually to get over this curse of my past life. I graduated and was placed. Being a part of this pain helps me understand how it feels at the receiving end. I started identifying people with such speech disorders and started to train them during my free time on weekends, I’m still associated with various speech therapy forums to help people get over it.
For the past 15 years I have been working in the diamond jewellery industry and have made many presentations around the world and launched many successful collections during my career, I’m happily married and my wife Dr. Suhani has been a pillar of strength just like my mother Dr.Sushma. I feel grateful to have two “Dr. S” in my family who have stood by me in all the ups and downs of my life. I dedicate my whole career to my mother and my wife who helped me in getting out of the biggest fear of my life . Now I feel more motivated when people say ” nice presentation!” and I Smile.
Submitted By – Akash Talesara
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