22nd February 2021
As for many of us, school was a struggle for Nasir Din. That was until his first drama class. Read how being on stage gave him the confidence to succeed in his career and even try his hand at stand-up comedy.
I've been stammering for just shy of 20 years, and every conversation is my performance on stage. This is my story.
I started stammering at the age of 5. When we moved from Germany to England I started to stammer more, and the older I got the more frustrated and angry I was getting. I simply couldn't get my words out like everyone else could and it made me feel depressed. This led me to believe that I wasn't normal. I would sometimes ask people, "What does it feel like to speak so freely and be able to say anything you want, when you want?" "It's normal," they answered, "it's just like walking". I could never imagine that; speaking freely seemed to be a superpower to me.
Speaking freely seemed to be a superpower to me.
Asking questions, reading, speaking on the phone or simply saying my name was sometimes impossible to do. I always knew what to say but I could never say it; the words didn't want to come out. I could never pay attention to conversations because I was constantly thinking about ways of answering without stammering.
School was horrible. I struggled to make friends and constantly skipped class when I knew teachers were going to make us read aloud. It was truly my worst nightmare. Some nights I couldn't sleep because I knew I would have to read or present something. I was constantly planning my escape. My worst memory of school is knowing correct answers but giving wrong one that were easier to pronounce, which left me feeling somewhat stupid, depressed and in general mentally drained.
Strangely, I noticed that I could only get my words out on a stage and not elsewhere. Being on the stage motivated me and gave me the confidence that I needed.
At 14 I was forced into a drama class and made to improvise a scene in front of everyone. I felt terrified. With teary eyes, sweating hands and all my internal alarms going off, I suddenly thought to myself, "I have nothing to lose". As I started performing and speaking, I began to feel confident and at ease all of a sudden, and didn't care about my stammer. The stage was mine and I would speak as I wanted to. Strangely, I noticed that I could only get my words out on a stage and not elsewhere. Being on the stage motivated me and gave me the confidence that I needed.
Through those drama classes I slowly started to learn about breathing techniques and speaking styles that helped me get my words out. The more I practised my speech and performed, the more confident I was getting. I took this concept to my personal life. Every phone call, presentation and conversation was a performance and I was the main actor.
Confidence, career & comedy
When I was 18 I moved back to Germany on an engineering scholarship. My confidence grew and I took part in every conversation and every presentation that I could. I pushed myself as much as possible and by 21 I decided to pursue a career where presenting and speaking would be my job. Today, I'm 25 and working as a Senior Customer Success Manager for a software company. In my current role I speak to clients on a daily basis, hold presentations and work with people all over the world.
I always loved to make people laugh; something about going on stage gave me the confidence to speak, and that's why I continued to put myself in front of audiences.
Since leaving school I never found my way back into drama, which was a real shame, so I constantly found ways of being on stage. Eventually this led to me doing comedy shows around Berlin. I always loved to make people laugh; something about going on stage gave me the confidence to speak, and that's why I continued to put myself in front of audiences. People really appreciated my comedy. It was all about growing up in a multicultural household, and this was received very well. By 2016 and 2017, I was doing around three open mic comedy shows a week. Some days I would have terrible shows when I felt my words wouldn't come out. This tended to be related to stress or something in my personal life, but I always found the courage to get back up, and I think that is what has kept me going over the last few years.
- "It's a double-edged sword being a stammering comedian" Read Aidan's article
- "I didn't think someone who stutters like me could be a comedian" Read Nina's article
Since 2017 I haven't done much comedy due to my studies and professional career. My work takes up the majority of my time, but after the Coronavirus I am definitely looking to get back into doing comedy shows.
What my stammer's taught me
I never allowed my stammer to beat me, but instead I let it work with me. I didn't let it stop me from chasing my goals, and I never will. My stammer carved out my journey to where I am today. It taught me so much about perseverance and hard work and I simply refuse to let anything stand between me and my goals. It’s not going to get in the way anymore. I'm in control.
It's also important to remember that I am by no means 'fluent' in my speech — I still stammer and have days when I stammer more, but that's okay. It will always be a part of me, and the world will always be my stage.
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