Facing challenges

nick

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Living with a stutter has been an incredible challenge throughout my life. At first, I was very angry and discouraged that I couldn’t communicate like most people. In school, other kids teased me and call me names, and that played a factor in my self esteem and dignity. Luckily for me, I was talented in many other avenues, such as soccer, hockey and drawing, and that made me feel better about myself. But I have always had this one impediment that lingered in the background …. my stutter.

Challenges of stuttering

Other people who stutter know how maddening and humiliating it can be. To go to a restaurant and have a hard time telling the waiter or waitress what you want to eat. To call a friend on the phone, and you can’t say their name when the parent answers.  Trying to tell a story or a funny joke, and having the person you are talking to wonder what is wrong with you. The strange look on the other person’s face, that mix of confusion and embarrassment. To protect myself from seeing that look, I developed a habit of not looking at them, so that my stutter wouldn’t get worse.

Success on stage

As a teenager, my stutter was still a problem. I was desperate to try anything that would help. Then, one day I took part in a school play and found out that I really enjoyed it! Whenever I was on stage singing or delivering my lines in front of an audience, my stutter would disappear. That success became a huge motivational boost for me. I could now see the possibility of overcoming my problem. From then on I started working on my speech in front of mirror, reciting famous monologues from my favorite movies and TV show and slowly but surely began to establish a common rhythm in my voice that had been lacking most of my life. My confidence in myself grew, and I noticed that I stuttered less. I felt more confident talking on the phone and communicated better in public. I still sometimes get caught once in a while with a stutter. When this happens I compose myself and just smile and laugh it off and try again, and most times my audience doesn’t think anything of it, and laugh with instead of at me. Which is a nice change!

Facing our challenges

The struggle I endured over the years with my stuttering, I can honestly say, is one of the most influential things in my life. It gave me the strength and sheer determination to overcome any obstacle I may face. That success will come if you want it bad enough and are willing to work at it. I was able to achieve my life long goal of graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from Lakehead University and become a Canadian Certified Pedorthist (foot care professional specializing in custom made orthotics) where I help treat many lower limb and foot conditions. The speech skills I developed when I was young have allowed me to better communicate with my patients with confidence and without much of a stutter.

For anyone who is grappling with this, remember that stuttering doesn’t define who you really are as a person. Your character is most important and will determine how people see you. And it’s your character that allows you to achieve great things, and not let shortcomings like stuttering get the better of you.

Nick Sebastian Caravaggio, BSc. , C Ped (C), has his own practice in Peterborough, Ontario.