We continue our Stutter Social Stories series with an interview with regular hangout participant, Rahul Hirani, from Gwalior, India. As someone who accepts what life throws at him, Rahul shares how he made sure his stuttering didn't prevent him from achieving great marks in school.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I'm currently pursuing a Bachelor of Technology degree in computer science. Honestly, I look at myself as a 10 year old trapped in a 19 year old body. Programming, reading novels and writing diaries are my first love. I've been stuttering since I was 4 but it never really mattered to me until I entered into my teenage years.
2. What are your hobbies?
I like to explore things. If I'm interested in a particular subject, I'd dive deep in it and if not, I'd not even care reading about it. These are some things I've always loved to do:
- Reading books, as they help me to dream the farthest reaches of the my brain.
- Writing. It slows down my brain and helps me to think better.
- Playing cricket. Sports have played a great role in my life. It has taught me the value of team work and has helped me to evolve as a leader.
- Last but not the least, speaking. I love to make my friends laugh at my jokes. Yes I stammer when I speak to them, but the delight of making them smile makes my day.
Growing up as a stammerer was never easy. I was 4 when my parents first noticed that I found it hard to speak a word. I used to repeat the first syllable of the word. People said it's normal and kids often do that during the early ages. Some of them even gave references of some Baba (persons who are believed to possess magical powers but are actually fake). But the most hilarious moment came when a doctor told my parents that I do it for fun and even my parents should talk to me like that. I was 7 that time. Everyone in my family started stammering every time they talked to me for some days, but even that didn't help.
As my age was increasing, my stutter was becoming a major concern for me and my parents. During my early teenage years my stammering rose severely and I struggled a lot at my school.
Sometimes, I even used my stutter to its advantage. During my oral exams if I didn't know the answer to some question, I just used to bounce on some letter so that it appears to the teacher that I know the answer but I'm unable to speak it. I fetched a lot of marks during my school time by using this trick.
But soon friends started disappearing and I found myself living alone. Life in this aspect was very hard. I was teased by my mates. It was fun for them but it had very negative effect on a 15 year old, who just needed their attention. And therefore I never had a so called "best friend" in my life. I learned to live alone and enjoy myself. Books and diaries became my best friend. I had a imaginary world of my own.
4. How did You find about Stutter Social and what made you give it a try?
A year ago, I was randomly searching on the Internet for some people like me whom I can connect to
and the almighty didn't disappoint me. I found Stutter Social, logged in to Facebook and became a fan of the page. A random post in the group mentioned about the Google+ hangout. In excitement, I clicked the link and went into the hangout but sadly "the party was over". I reviewed its time on the website and found only Wednesday hangouts to be compatible with my schedule, as the other ones are held at 5:00 a.m. Indian Standard time. I was super exited about the following Wednesday.
The day arrived and I logged in. Eight persons were already in and I was the ninth. Hanan Hurwitz, the host, welcomed me and asked me to introduce myself. My heart started beating fast. I started and stuttered on almost every word I spoke. It was my first experience on hangouts and it didn't turn out to be good. But slowly and steadily I improved.
One thing that I personally like about Stutter Social hangouts is that you get a chance to introduce yourself every time someone joins the hangout.
5. How did Stutter Social help you?
Stutter Social has helped me a lot. Not only through the hangout but also by the people who run it. I made a lot of friends who I communicate with every time I feel down. The hosts, Hanan and Pamela are one of the best people I have met. We often chat on Facebook and share a lot of useful information, and that certainly helps us to know more about each other's lives.
6. What tips would you give other PWS?
- Your stammering doesn't define your personality. We all are different in some aspect or the other. Just accept yourself the way you are and start enjoying what life throws at you.
- Always speak when needed. Remember, you are for yourself. People may help you sometimes but in the longer run it's you who has to decide your destiny.
- Never speak unnecessarily. People may advise you to speak as much as you can, but never do that unless what you are speaking has a positive effect on your mind. We can speak negative things far more fluently than the positive ones. But that isn't healthy for our brain, and brain is everything.
- This one is my favourite – to achieve something you've never had before, you must do something you have never done before.