I remember ever since the age of 5, when I discovered that my speech had an unusual problem, I became the subject of tons of mockery and ridicule. My peers were just not ready to accept my condition (Probably because in the place where I live, this problem is very rare). I had such a terrible stammer then, I couldn’t even speak my name properly without pausing. I remember a hilarious event from my class 8 when I participated in the Math Quiz, and during the rapid fire round, I was asked a simple question on ‘percentages’. Now the greatest irony was that I knew the answer but it got stuck in my throat (My typical problem). The word simply didn’t come out. My shirt began to wet with perspiration. Finally, after 180 seconds (the time limit), the teacher, surprised at my inability to answer even such a simple question, moved on with the other candidates. Imagine the embarrassment that I must have felt : Of being unable to get the word out for 3 painful minutes and not to include the ridicule from my peers at having failed to answer.
You can hardly imagine what have I been through all my childhood because of this problem. However, I was indeed very lucky to have so supporting parents, who not only worked tirelessly for helping me improve my speech but also took me to numerous therapists. After a couple of years, because of their tremendous love and support, I finally began to fight against this demon. The first step I took was to ignore what anyone said or thought about me. I had only one goal in my mind: Fight My Stammer. And for that I needed tremendous willpower and emotional support.
I discovered that in order to develop willpower, you need to be brave. You need to overcome your fears and fight for what matters to you! I began to work on it by practicing in front of mirror everyday for a couple of minutes.Gradually, I began to develop confidence to face the challenge. With a view to experiment this new found strength and confidence, I signed up for a speech competition in class 4. The first reaction of everyone when they saw me on stage was of shock! One of the students even yelled at me “Is this some kind of joke, Abhi?”. But you know what I did? I calmly ignored him and moved on with my speech. I spoke constantly for 4 minutes (without even catching my breath), just staring at the wall of the auditorium and ignoring everyone else.
When I completed, I couldn’t believe I had done that! I took the first step towards my fight and was successful! My mother, who was sitting at the back, was so happy to see her son speak so beautifully and so were my teachers. My peers (especially the “joke” guy) were dumbfounded on seeing this. Since that day, they realized what a terrible mistake they had done by mocking me (Some of them even apologized to me). With the passing years, as I began to participate more and more in such competitions, their mockery transformed into respect. Even today, when I bumped into an old classmate, he saw me with such a respect and awe. And that has been my biggest feat till date! So the biggest mantra to overcome mockery, from what I have learnt is
“LEARN TO IGNORE PEOPLE”