How a Secret Talent for Walking on Stilts Helped Me More than 10 Years of Speech Therapy

In 7th grade, my middle school drama club put out a call for help.

They needed someone who could walk on stilts.

They were putting on a circus production and needed someone who could be the “tallest person in the world.”

Everybody has something they are naturally just boss at.

Mine is stilts.

Ain’t that some shit?

I also stuttered from the time I could talk until high school.

The circus play just involved stilts, no speaking parts. But I got interested in public speaking and rhetoric. The next play I did was Macbeth. I played the trumpeter (middle school band geek). Again, no speaking parts but I actually made sounds. Progress!

Then I volunteered to read verses at church. Then got the third male speaking part in Camelot the musical (Sir Dinadan, 5 lines, there is a reason you probably haven’t heard of that character). Then ran for president at the National Youth Leadership Forum for Defense, Intelligence and Diplomacy for high school scholars, and won.

Since then, I went back to the forum as a featured speaker, delivered dozens of speeches to various business and employee affinity groups, and have been paid for public speaking on three occasions.

I later wrote my speech therapist from my childhood to tell him how things went. It was among the most cathartic things I’ve ever done.

Each small victory made the next step of the ladder more accessible and reachable.

Never discount any path to get to your ideal state.

Thank goodness for the stilts.

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