Finding my freedom

The author Allie Meeks in her various performances

3rd December 2020

When she was bullied as a child, Allie Meek found solace in the school music room. Now travelling the world as a professional singer, she urges us not to let stammering hold us back.

Hi, my name is Allie and I'm from the Midlands. I'd like to share my experiences of coping with my speech and how I found and moulded a career as an international singer.

As a child I'd noticed my speech was somewhat different and it scared me a lot. I'd hide away at school and wouldn't volunteer for anything. I'd dread English reading classes. I was bullied every day from an early age, and I'm sure most of you will know how horrendous it makes you feel when you have something you cannot control. It was so disheartening.

But then something changed.

Allie singing and dancing

Performing

I used to look forward to music and art lessons, and every break time you'd probably find me in a music room passing the time playing the piano and singing. I'd just be alone there. Time stopped for me, and somehow I found my solace there. I took part in the school plays and I finally found my people who accepted me for who I was.

I then went on to carry my artistic flare to university. From there I entered the world of performing when I was 22 and I now entertain passengers on cruise ships and resorts. This has taken me to so many places I wouldn't have dreamed of seeing, and interacting with audiences is the most rewarding and incredible experience to date. 

Allie beside a cruise ship

My work mostly involves singing song after song in productions alongside other singers and dancers. I've played main roles in musicals such as We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia and Grease. Sometimes there are elements of acting but as you have to speak in character, I enjoy this as I don't seem to struggle as much when I can alter my voice. My favourite is playing villainous characters — think Morticia from The Addams Family (see the picture below). I've also been chosen as vocal captain for various companies and I’m super proud of that achievement. You can watch me in action on my Cruise showreel here

Allie as Morticia in the Addam's Family musical

Challenges and rewards

It's quite fascinating — on good days I don't struggle with my speech in the shows, but when I'm tired I sometimes do. I used to have a little cry after performances and I'd beat myself up about it. Most of the time I was fortunate enough to ask the directors if I was able to alter the script in a way that I caused me less trouble with the dialogue. Other than that, I struggle when having to speak as myself to guests around the ships and resorts when I'm not performing, but 90% of the time everyone’s so lovely and understanding.

When I'm on stage singing to thousands, I feel free. I don't feel trapped in my anxieties, nor do I have the worries so many of us torment ourselves with every day.

But in the end I wouldn't trade it for anything 'easier'. It's challenging and it's my passion. When I’m on stage singing to thousands, I feel free. I don't feel trapped in my anxieties, nor do I have the worries so many of us torment ourselves with every day. We underestimate our own capabilities, until we get the recognition we so deserve.

Allie performing
Image courtesy of Joe Diduca Photography

Passion

Now, 8 years on, I'm still on my journey to self-acceptance. Sometimes I have good days that I wish would last forever, and other days I cry myself to sleep. But at the end of it all there’s one thing I've realised... I found my outlet and I found my voice. I'm proud of myself for ignoring the bullies, and for just going for things without letting anything hold me back.

If you have a passion for something that helps you cope with your stammer, embrace it... ignore those who tell you you 'can't' do something.

If you have a passion for something that helps you cope with your stammer, embrace it. Whether it's reading, painting, martial arts, cooking, baking, or dancing/singing like me, never stop doing it and you’ll love yourself for it. That's something I've now learnt – and that's all that matters. Because it's what's uniquely yours and nobody can take that away from you.

So I want you to be yourself, ignore those who tell you you 'can't' do something; challenge yourself, find your passion, embrace what you love — because you may just find your freedom along the way.

Would you like to share your story? Click here to find out how. See our At Work section for information and advice for coping with stammering at work, as well as with interviews and job hunting.

(Main image courtesy of Joe Diduca Photography)

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