Prefect ‘Thought for the Week’ #3: Sam Christmas

When I realised that I was speaking to you in week four, my heart dropped. The prospect of sharing some wisdom with you on a Monday morning, filled me a little dread. However, I decided that speaking earlier on in the year meant  that I won’t have my topic already used by someone else. My next task was to figure out exactly what I would say. After some chin-wagging I decided to talk to you regarding something that we all have to face: adversities in everyday life. These personal challenges come in a variety of forms, whether they be dyslexia, injuries or even poor handwriting. Yet, to me being able to speak is, and has been for a number of years now, one of the greatest obstacle in my life. Since the age of seven I’ve had a stammer, some of you may be aware of this, others less so. I’ve got no idea how I developed it, I attribute it to my parents decision to send me to boarding school, aged only seven but I’m not bitter. To be honest I’ve got no clue about it’s origin, and in truth it doesn’t really matter.

The great tragedy of having a speech impediment is that I love to speak, as my friends will attest to. Primarily, the inability to communicate at times is distinctly irritating. It didn’t seem fair to me that I should have this problem, while others seemed perfectly unaffected. But it didn’t matter, I was stuck with it. It became acutely worse if I was nervous or meeting new people, the idea of coming to a new school in year nine was a little scary. Relying on the patience of others wasn’t going to be good enough, I decided to do something about it. I had the good fortune to be studying drama at the time. My Lamda teacher at the time, and Mr Kerr after I joined RHS, decided to help me. Some problems are too difficult to be handled by one person, and it’s their kindness that made the difference. A key piece of advice was to actually practise my pronunciation. Now, I did this by placing a pencil between my teeth and attempting to read lines. I don’t know if any of you have actually done this before, but it is both surprisingly difficult and ridiculous to watch. It wasn’t particularly fun, in fact it felt a little humiliating, and at first I noticed no obvious difference in my speech pattern. Yet, it helped. I began to stammer less and less, particularly with words that I had prepared before.

It’s not perfect and I’m never going to be completely stammer-free. To be honest the speed at which I talk as well as my ridiculous accent don’t really alleviate the situation. But the important message from this little story is that I had a problem, and I tried to solve it. Life is tough, sometimes you get dealt a rubbish hand; however, if you put your mind to it you can try and, if not solve it, improve it drastically. Some problems are more serious than others and I said earlier sometimes you need help but nothing is going to get done without some effort from you. Now I should probably have attempted to insert some kind of vaguely inspiration last liner. I was going to use practice makes perfect, but that would be a lie. I prefer – practice makes a hell of difference compared to doing nothing about it.

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