About four years ago, I was in a dilemma. I courted my wife for a year and three months. We started preparations for our wedding which took place in November...
Confronting the things, you mostly dread is one of the most fulfilling ventures in life.
According to statistics, 60 % of things feared will never take place while 30% of things feared happened in the past and can’t be changed. Confronting the things, you mostly dread is one of the most fulfilling ventures in life. Madiba was right when he said ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ History is replenished with instances of men and women who dared to believe, who were unafraid to test their feet upon murky waters, who against hope believed and chased their dreams even when it screamed ‘impossible’. Many who despite feeling the ‘fear butterflies’ did it anyway.
Growing up, I’d always had a flair for talking. I came alive when I was speaking, and it could be on anything. However, there was a massive stumbling block: I was a chronic stutterer. My case was so dire that I will spend over a minute on a sentence. It was an albatross which was compounded by my ‘not-so-good’ friends in school. I was an easy target for mockery and ridicule. The rippling effect of this was that I became a taciturn and recoiled. I kept to myself. My phobia of stuttering had caught up with my dreams and it was threatening the one major thing I’d immense passion for. There was I, a boy of 8 with all my admiration for public speaking slowly but surely fizzling away before my very eyes.
This fear drove me into finding out more on how to break the stammering habit. The things I found in my research didn’t give me solace. I falsely learnt that it was hereditary and that I will have to live with it for the rest of my life. At some point, I had to make a decision to either let the fear of failing in public speaking rub me of my happiness or just try. In one of my most loved commencement speech of all time, J.K. Rowling told the Harvard class of 2008 that ‘you must not fear failure, no matter how grim things get.’ Thankfully, I had a strong support base which was family. They could see how I love to speak but currently deterred by this monster called ‘stammering’.
The decision to break away from this fear led me to unconventional methods. I will speak on a one to one basis with my siblings for a period while trying not to stutter. Any iota of stuttering within the period will be met with the rod. It forced me to try, to believe, to be better. There are days when I will sit alone in front of a mirror, pretending to be Larry King hosting the then ‘Larry King Live’ show. Without the preying eyes of a camera, I will take several sessions. And guess what? It was all working. Slowly but surely, I was getting better and I was improving. My fear of public speaking was seeing its last days. The day that finally put paid to this freedom was sometime in 2005 when I had to represent my Secondary School in a debate competition. The phobia arrived. The well-articulated voices in my head were active ‘You? Speak in the midst of all these distinguished students? Remember stammering is innate. Don’t embarrass yourself.’ I did anyway, and I came out number one in the competition. Today, public speaking is now part of my DNA, almost child’s play. I’d gone on to work in a number of T.V and radio stations. I have won a number of speaking competitions. I belong to the Toastmasters global speaking club where I have attained an advanced communicator medal. As a matter of fact, I even run football commentary locally and internationally. My 8 to 5 job relies a lot on speaking, facilitating and making presentations and while it might be cocky to say how brilliant I am at this, I will rather say it’s no more hard work. Indeed, those fear voices were only a charade.
Speaking to his son in the movie ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ Will Smith told his son ‘Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you have to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you that you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.’ In the final analysis, fear is a façade, a bloody smokescreen and a mirage. I am the dreamer who broke up with fear of public speaking. Now I am living my dream to the fullest. Let’s live our dreams together!
About Samuel Okonkwo
Samuel works as a Human Resources Professional in one of the big 5 International Oil Company. An executive member of Toastmasters global speakers club and an ardent blogger with over 350 published online articles to his account. In his pastime, he is involved in charity and volunteering activities and at other times, he is running football commentary. His maiden book ‘The Path Less Travelled’ can be found on Amazon.
He Blog at – http://samuelokonkwok.blogspot.com.ng/