What I am told, I have had this stammer since I was 6. My earliest memory of the step we took is my father taking me to the most (if not the most) reputable hospital in the country. We met a decorated and renowned MBBS doctor, who looked me up, under my tongue and everything. He concluded, “He does not have anything. Stammering just happens due to nervousness. I am coming from taking an interview of Medical Students, and they were all stammering more than him. We came back relaxed. But with time, stammering just kept on increasing. After waiting for a few years, I started to take speech therapies.
The drills which were done, when I look back at them now, I find it comical. There was so much wrong with them, but since I was in a desperate situation. I kept on doing exactly what they taught me. My memory was vague at that time. Either my stammering was less, or I felt that way because I was young, and my ice-burg was not big enough.
Having researched and read about it, I would say it is the latter. I took speech therapy after speech therapy. All of them in a closed room, practice speaking extremely slowly, and (Yes, I will say it) fluently.
I can safely say about all that time, effort, money spent for 9 years, the only advantage I got was knowing the routes of my city, after driving myself at speech therapies, as I grew older.
Thanks to my love for music, one day, a Gareth Gates song popped up in my suggestion video on social media, and while listening to that, a video of this programme came in front of me, in my suggestions, where they make you breathe all day, make you speak on the phone, interact with a 100 unknown people, and public speaking. I discussed this course with my dad, and even now, I remember the word I used for these 100 contacts. I said, “Stupidity”. But luckily, my dad knocked some sense into me. After seeing speech therapy not working for me and researching this programme, I found myself boarding a flight to Dubai, with my dad, which happened to be my first time out of my country.
After exploring the wonders of Dubai, it came the time for the 1st Days interviews. I was doing rather well. And by “well,” I mean using filler words, changing my answers, using secondary gestures, etc. The only place where I really stuck was CRICKET. When asked about my fav sport and being from Pak, if I have said anything else, they would rightfully think I am lying. The transformations videos of members inspired me.
I gave away my phone (my dad took care of it), and followed all the guidelines. It is worth mentioning that I had never interacted with any foreigner in my life, so just being in the room with a French, 1 Irish, 1 (then) English, 1 Sri Lankan, and many Arabs was me pushing out of my comfort zone. Days passed by, and I was feeling confident and confident.
After a fun-filled session of Harrison Workshops, the time has come. 100 Contacts and the time began.
I can safely say, “I was horrible.” It was a different ball game using the techniques in the real world. To be honest, Public Speaking wasn’t big of an issue, since I was always an overt stammerer and using the techniques assertively on the stage, helped. But it was the face to face conversation that was bothering me.
Kudos, my coach stuck with me, kept pushing me and hid my number of contacts. When I gave up and told him, “I can’t do it anymore,” he showed me the counter, 100. That was such a relief for me and something to pat myself on the back for. Good Byes were really tough, but I was taking all the memories with me, and I could feel, “I am now a part of something special.”
After that, yes, relapses came, bad speaking situations happened and still happening, but I always knew, what to do. I was my own coach, along with the 200+ certified coaches I had, at my disposal. From them, I have learned, “Celebrate small wins and don’t be too hard of yourself.”
This took me a while to realize because you have to find the right balance between being complacent and celebrating good moments. There were times when I was misunderstood by people, but I was honest with myself.
If you look at the positives, there are too many to pen down. Being associated with a stammering self-help support group, spreading awareness and motivating stammers, applying for one internship/job, after the other, even after rejections. This “never give up” attitude was boosted by McGuire. With such an attitude, even in this Covid-19 Crisis, I got 2 job offers at the same time.
Above everything, after 1.5 Years of thinking, I joined Toastmasters, which happened to be the biggest club in the country. So surviving in that type of quality was not easy, but with time, I not only survived, but I thrived. Taking role after role, volunteering for tasks, Judging contests, you name it, I did everything. It had grown on me. So much so that I decided to run for the position of Vice President Public Relations of my club and was elected by the club members.
Apart from my McGuire family, my self-help group and all, I would thank my immediate family, for showing persistence and being a constant reminder, even when things got tough.
So much more to say but for now, have a good day