Never Let the Fear of Striking Out Keep You from Playing the Game

February 23, 2010  |  Posted in: Members' Blog - Stuttering Perspectives   |  By:   |   0 Comments

Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

We as persons who stutter are faced with the everyday challenge of the unknown. Will the words flow smoothly? Or will there be a block on every word we try to say? As much as we try to prepare ourselves to be calm and talk slowly, there is always that possibility that our stuttering has different plans for us.

My high school graduation was one of those days where my stuttering decided to surprise me but in the end, it became one of the most memorable days of my life. About 4 weeks before graduation, I found out that I was the Salutatorian of my class. I was so excited and proud that after all of the hard work I put in, it finally paid off-but wait…Salutatorian meant that I had to speak at graduation?! I felt a rush of emotions but I suddenly envisioned myself standing up in front of hundreds of people, starting to speak and have no words come out. How was I going to do this?

For the next 4 weeks, I rehearsed my speech with my speech therapist, English teacher and parents. I rehearsed my speech so many times that I knew it like the back of my hand. The more I rehearsed the speech, the more smoothly it flowed but time and practice would tell on June 3rd and the day was fast approaching. One minute I was confident about saying it out loud and the next I was a nervous wreck because as all of us know, we can practice practice practice but we never quite know what will happen. I had the unconditional support of Uri Schneider, my speech therapist, my parents and all of my teachers. They were rooting for me and I believed in myself, even though I knew there were people rooting for me to fail.

As fate would have it, the morning of graduation I said my speech perfectly- no blocks, no pauses. Maybe, just maybe I’ll get lucky and it will flow I thought to myself. As graduation started I was honored and scared to say my speech but as I heard my name being called I thought-this is it…it’s now or never. As I scanned the room for my parents I started to speak and then it happened-no words, just air. NO! Everyone sat there looking at me as if they thought I forgot my speech-NO! I wanted to scream I know it!! I stutter and the words just aren’t coming out. After what felt like an eternity I continued with my speech, pushing through every word when someone from my graduating class shouted out “Come on Nina, you can do it” and everyone started cheering me on. Could this be? Every single person in the room was rooting for ME. Through many bumps and blocks I finished my speech and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. When I was finished. I received a standing ovation which showed me that my graduating class along with their families not only accepted me but they were rooting for me. All of that anticipation building up to the moment that would make me or break me was gone and left was the joy I felt because I knew few people would experience in their lifetime what I just accomplished.

To all of you people who stutter who are reading this, when faced with a challenge, stand up and don’t be afraid to show your true colors. If I did not stutter, my graduation would have been special but I would not have had the memorable, life-changing experience that will stay with me the rest of my life. There will always be those who are rooting for us to fail but it is those who are in our corner rooting for us that make all the difference. I could not have gotten through graduation without Uri, my parents, my teachers and in the end, my graduating class who was there for me when I needed them.

I could have easily given up and had my English teacher finish the speech for me but it was my moment and I deserved it. All of you deserve to feel a sense of accomplishment and encouragement and if you feel there is no one rooting for you-I AM! Don’t be afraid to be a fruit loop in a world of Cheerios. Stay strong and stutter beautifully.

– Nina

Disclaimer: Please note that the information and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Blog section of the NSA Queens Chapter website do not necessarily concur with the views or beliefs of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) or the Queens Chapter of the NSA. They are the opinion of each individual contributing author who attends the Queens chapter.









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