Nerve Endings Firing Away

CEN Speech Fall 2021

My sixth Communication Excellence Night speech was at the Arthur M. Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research. This culminated a semester’s worth of group meetings with other adults who stutter with clinicians' input.

Hi, my name is Pratik Mhatre. I’m a person who stutters. I may block on certain words or repeat sounds. Believe it or not, this is my sixth speech at the Blank Center. As the guy from the Farmers Insurance ad says, I know a thing or two because I have seen a thing or two.

Every semester, I wonder what new thoughts I want to share, but I often have trouble keeping it short as I sit down to write. I used to be the kid who would not speak up, but now as my group will tell you, I am the person who doesn’t shut up. That’s not a bad thing, right? I have learned to take space after years of making space.

So tonight, I am expected to give a speech to inspire. Do I think that I am a person who can inspire?

We have always doubted ourselves, but we never know who is looking up to us. So even if there is one person who may find my words inspiring, this will be worth the time.

We often ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. But trust me, kids give you way more exciting answers when you ask them what they want to do. Heck, how would kids even know what they want to be when right now we have jobs that didn’t exist 20 or even ten years ago.

I’ll be honest and say I wanted to be a doctor as a kid first because there were no doctors in our family, only boring engineers. Second, because what doctors did was so cool to a kid. You could save lives and literally do magic by making people feel better. So why didn’t I become one? I definitely had the grades for it. At that time, I just thought that saying all those long, complicated words of diseases and medicines were too hard, and people would make fun of me so that I wouldn’t be a good doctor.

But in our current group session, we have three doctors, and one is aspiring to be one. They all do the things that I thought doctors did as a kid. I admire them, and I wish my 12-year-old self had known that was possible. I held myself back because I thought how I spoke would be more important than what I did. We even have a person in our group who works for the suicide crisis hotline. Imagine that! He literally saves lives at people’s worst times just by speaking with them…on the phone!

Well, as for me, things did turn out well. I am a doctor now. But as my dad points out, not a real one. I’m kidding; he’s proud of me.

Here’s to doing whatever you want to do and achieving your goals in life. Thank you to the Blank Center for helping me in my journey. Thanks to Sara and Blaze for their guidance and my awesome group for their thoughts. Good luck and good night.

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