My condition made me fear public speaking but like they say, the best way to overcome your fear is to face it.
Trevor Nafe, from a mixed parentage of Eastern Highlands and Morobe is a second year chemistry student at the University of Papua New Guinea. He is the third of three children. He was born with this speech impediment, known as sigmatism or lisp. A person with a lisp has problems making the sounds associated with the letters S and Z.
“I was born with a (lisp) and was thinking that growing up, it would change. It was embarrassing when (I went) to school and still pronounced words like a toddler. It was a struggle for me. When I went to school it becomes worse. The teasing became a normal thing. As much as I wanted to hide it, I could not do anything. I was always afraid to stand in class and talk as students always imitate me.
“I even prayed and questioned God for being born this way. I even tried watching speech videos in YouTube hoping it would help, but to no avail. When I started taking up public speaking, students would laugh at me, and this always holds me back from talking in front of people. But then I as time went by I realized that the more I open up to people and the more I stand in front and talk, the more people will realize that this is how I talk and that I don’t have control over that.
“When I entered secondary school, I started to do a lot of public speaking by taking leadership roles. This gave me confidence, even though I knew my condition will remain with me for the rest of my life.
“When I entered university, I started to open up to everyone so they can know that I was born like that. The more I hide it, the more people will tease me. The best way is to stand with confidence and embrace who I am.
“I represented the chemistry strand and participated in the science school debate. Even when I talked during the debate I saw people reacting to how I was speaking. When I won the ‘Best Male Debater’ award for public speaking, I wasn’t expecting it. My family never knew that I had taken up public speaking. My late mom use to tell me, one day when you grow up and your disability will change.
“I know many children are born like this and are still finding their way. Teasing will be a normal thing, but the best way to overcome your fears is to face it.”
By Majeleen Yanei