-Persuasive Speech given today for my Public Speaking Class 4/11/2011
Have you ever walked into a room and you’re either way too overdressed or underdressed? You all of a sudden enter this zone where you do not feel comfortable in. You feel like all eyes are on you and you just want to leave. Try walking into every room you have ever entered, feeling that way. I do! Every day I live my life being starred at, judged, made fun of, and questioned. I’ve never gone through a day where I don’t catch a stare, or hear a little kid asking his mom or dad why I have a big head and am so short. I can be the best looking kid, the best dressed in that room, yet all eyes are on me. Is it fair, no? Is it my life, yes?
Throughout my life I have been given gifts and qualities that people would love to have. I have dark thick hair, a physically fit body, outgoing personality, athleticism, charm, a way with words, a loving family, and the best group of friends that would have my back at any given moment. The only quality I am missing, that affects me in the real world the most, is lack of size. You are thinking so what, just because you’re not built like a professional basketball player shouldn’t ruin your life. It doesn’t at all, but in today’s society, how tall you are can say so much about the person.
When I was born, the doctor pulled out a book he found covered in dust in the bottom of his draw and laid it out on the table to give to my parents. This book went on to explain all of the challenges my life would hold; let me tell you, this book is pretty thick. The doctor went on and summarized the book by telling my parents a lot of things; that I wasn’t going to be able to ride a bike, drive a car, play any sports, succeed in school, have a job, be social…basically saying that your son is going to be “different.” I was born with a bucket list, a list of things that would take a miracle for me to complete, a list that is now full of scratch offs and check marks. He also told my parents that there was a good chance that I was not going to live a long life. I wasn’t supposed to even make it out of the hospital through complications of health.
Achondroplasia dwarfs, the form of dwarfism I have, have a few different characteristics that you can easily point out from the moment they are born. We have a relatively long torso, compared to our arms and limbs. The pool, lakes and oceans aren’t very friendly to us come summer time for they give us ear infections all season long. Our hands, you can literally say there out of this world, because our ring finger and middle finger diverge away from each other in jealousy. Making us able to do the alien “peace be with you” symbol fairly easily. Our heads, oh boy how could you miss them? We have fairly larger heads with a prominent forehead and plenty of stories to come with it, I believe have cracked my head 6 times with a couple of scars to prove it.
Adapting is something I’m used to and seems to come second nature for me now. The first thing that had to be adapted for me was my bike. I remember having this new blue sporty bike with training wheels for my fourth birthday. The seat was nice and comfy, and my arms could reach the handle bar. The only problem was my feet couldn’t reach the peddles. My dad taped up a couple of my blocks I played with around the peddles and that solved that problem.
I later needed stools and other tools to help me navigate around my own house with no problem. We had custom wooden stools made for me so I could reach the countertops and the sink to wash my hands and brush my teeth. I also when I was really young had this instrument made to attach to door handles that had a wooden stick hang down so I could reach the door handles and open the doors that way. I also had a stick made that had a “V” shape point on the end with a mouth on the side to turn on and off the lights. My parents wanted to make the home as homey as possible for me, because I was a member of that family and I should be able to do what I want when I want at my convenience in my own home.
Fortunately for me, my life isn’t as bad as others with my condition. I thank that all to the environment I have been surrounded by; my neighborhood, my education, my parents, and my personality. I accepted myself before I could let anyone else accept me. With others though, it’s not that easy. Where and how you are raised at a young age can be the biggest difference maker when it comes to molding your attitude, personality and self-esteem. My mindset is so confident, that I have my self convinced I am no different. I don’t wake up every day saying, “oh crap, I’m different here we go again.” I put myself out there so quickly so you don’t have time to judge me on appearance. Others have it worse than me, and it is for them I am speaking for. There are over 200 different types of dwarfism, with achondroplasia being the most popular, accounting for about 70% in dwarfs. The ratio of new-borns diagnosed with dwarfism is 1 in every 25,000. Some types of dwarfism more easily noticeable than others, some involving more medical attention. Back problems and leg bowing is very common to most dwarves. Even more common, surgeries and hospital visits. Luckily I’ve only had to have one surgery performed to decrease the bowing in my legs.
Today we live in a world where if you were to ask a group of people if discrimination still exists, they would say yes but have nothing to back it up with. If you were to ask a manager if they have ever not hired someone because of their image they would deny deny deny. Everyone is guilty of it, even me. Judging people is natural, but the wall that stands between giving them an opportunity and not giving them the time of day for some people can be stronger or weaker than others. Some people won’t get over that wall, others have the attitude where they can break that barrier, and usually those are the people that experience diversity themselves, or have a family member who experiences pain.
What if Rosa Parks gave up her seat to the white passenger? What if Martin Luther dreamt about sugar-plums dancing in his head instead? What if Jackie Robinson never picked up a bat? What if Mathew Myers never gave this speech? Quite simply, we wouldn’t be living in a world full of hatred and discrimination. Imagine if you were told who your friends could be, who you could talk to, or had to drink out of a bubbler that had a sign that fit your skin color. Life would be literally so black and white. Luckily times have changed and we live in a country where your skin color doesn’t matter anymore. A country were your not supposed to discriminate. I’m just here to clean up what is left out there in discrimination and act as a reminder that all of the little discriminating that is still out there, still is painful to those it affects and needs to be put to an end.
I now come to the topic where if this were being broadcasted on live television, I would have to warn the producers to get ready to bleep out a lot of words that are about to come out of my mouth. Here comes the R-rated material. No I’m only kidding, what I’m talking about is the awful “M” word. The word I hate most in the dictionary, the word that if you want to put me in a bad mood, call me it. Yes, I’m talking about the word Midget; a word that is commonly used, but is considered highly offensive to people of short stature. It’s ok if you didn’t know that, in fact I know a lot of people didn’t know that because of today’s slang and usage in lyrics. The word midget is derived from the phrase, “small fly.” But that reasoning doesn’t bother me. It was back a while ago when little people would be used for the sole purpose of entertaining others. They would place us in the circus as multiple acts with no pay, humiliating ourselves like if we didn’t have a heart and soul. Plus the word just sounds nasty coming out of your mouth, midget ughh yuck.
I remember it was second grade and my mom was really into the whole “Mat needs a stool” everywhere he goes stage. And it was second grade and when I sit in my desk, my legs dangle the whole time and after a while your legs and feet fall asleep and it can be pretty annoying especially when you have to jump down randomly to write something on the chalkboard. I already had about 3 or 4 stools in the classroom ready for me for anything that seemed to be an obstacle for me. In comes my mom running in holding a new wooden stool, screaming “Hey Mat your new stool is ready for you for your desk, lets test it out!” Yes, it was pretty embarrassing, but the fact that she took the time out of her busy schedule to do something that extreme, shows she cares and shows the kind of character she is; putting others before herself. I try to follow that and put two people before myself always; God and YOU.
I’ve always wanted my life to be as normal as possible. I don’t want the special attention. I don’t want to be treated like the age I look, but the age I actually am. I don’t want the pity talks, I don’t want to be picked first when picking teams because you know I’ll be picked last. I want my life to be just like everyone else’s. I want to show everyone that I am no different, I am just as capable of completing every task that you and you and you can complete. I never ask for help, I never ask for extra time, and I will never let you down.
Our State has a motto: Live Free or Die. My motto is: You take one step, I take three. By this I mean that everything I do I give it all I got. I put my heart and soul into everything to prove to all the nay sayers. Everything I do I have to work three times as hard, whether its playing a sport, being the difference, or just a task as simple as walking. One of my steps equals almost 3 of your steps. My favorite quote: “When you’re like everyone else, you work hard to be different. When you’re different, you work hard to be like everyone else.” The owner of this quote is unnamed, which is unfortunate because it is so true on so many levels. How I approach this quote, is by remaining different but gaining the respect and opportunities that everyone else receives.
Conclusion: Through what I have learnt in this class, and with a lot more practice and repetition I hope to start giving speeches like these to schools and communities nearby. I’ve been privileged to meet so many people from all different kinds of cultures and backgrounds. People that it was nice to just say hi to, and others that will always have a special place in my heart. I am the worst when it comes to remembering names, I can remember a face but never a name with a face. But I will remember you if you have impacted me in a special way. Some people come and go, some people stop and say hi, than there are some people who impact me for the rest of my life. I hope out of anything you get out of this today, is a little bit of inspiration, a little bit of motivation to go out there and make a new friend with someone you normally wouldn’t talk to. I hope you come away with the knowledge that it is okay to be different, realistically everyone’s different in their own way and that’s why we’re all special. I don’t blame anyone for who I am, I take the little I’m given and create something beautiful out of it.