The best version of myself

My name is Nathan Roscoe and I stutter. From my time as a teenager, through university and well into my career, stuttering has always had an impact on my life and I am happy to share my experiences.

As a teenager I was comfortable in social settings. I could always be found involved with after school activities such as sports teams, music and other clubs. In the classroom, however, I was constantly afraid to ask a question, give a presentation or be called upon to read out loud. I saw a speech therapist for a year during Grade 10 and managed to almost eliminate my stuttering, which unfortunately returned during a presentation in English class. From then on, I dreaded having to do presentations.

Facing mockery

In university, I had a general sense of optimism regardless of my previous experiences. My stuttering fluctuated. In my second year I felt optimistic when starting a class entitled “Presentation Skills for Environmental Science”. It included multiple presentations on several topics. Though I received an almost perfect mark in the course, during the question period of my last presentation I was mocked for my stuttering by a fellow classmate. I have always possessed a relatively thick skin but this moment crushed me. I entered into my third and fourth years at Guelph afraid of all presentations and did everything possible to avoid courses that required them. My confidence in my speech, and myself, was at an all-time low.

I fear that my continued career development will be hindered by my stutteringSuccess and self-doubt 

I have had a successful career as a Project Developer for a renewable energy company in Toronto. My duties include the analysis of new and developed projects, market trends, landowner outreach and consultant management. Communication is crucial within the company as our primary support staff is located in the United States.  Though I have become successful, I fear that my continued career development will be hindered by my stutter. To be considered for a promotion I would need to demonstrate my ability to be comfortable presenting to municipal councils, landowners and other interested parties.

Suffice it to say, stuttering has provided numerous challenges in my life. Everyday activities such as phone calls or talking to someone with authority would trigger a stutter 99% of the time. Similar to my university career, my stutter in a social setting was rather subdued. It would only appear drastically during moments of stress and within the classroom.

Finding what works 

I have tried to apply several different methods to reduce and cope with my stutter throughout my life. I would apply the speaking techniques from different therapists and practice reading out loud and talking on the phone. To date, I haven’t fully been able to manage my stutter but I am working hard to just accept that this is a part of me.

The most successful goal of any stutterer, in my opinion, is acceptance.Stuttering is more than disfluency. It can completely shape the individual with doubt and low self-confidence. But this is not the main message of my article. The most successful goal of any stutterer, in my opinion, is acceptance. We must accept who we are but realize there is always hope in our future. I stutter and this is a part of who I am. Yes, it has caused some of the darkest times of my life but it has built incredible character, compassion and patience. I may not be the best presenter or the best communicator on the telephone, but I am the best version of myself and that’s something to be proud of.