entertainment

An Australian singer shocked millions of people last night. I'm so glad she did.

Last night Megan Washington did something wonderful.

She took a deep breath, steadied her nerves and revealed one of her deepest secrets on Australian Story. And it was a secret that frankly left me gobsmacked. Like millions of Australians, I just didn’t see it coming.

Megan Washington, the darling of the Australian music scene, the woman I have seen on TV or heard talking on radio so, so, so many times – has a speech impediment. A stutter. And you would NEVER have known. At least I didn’t. Because Megan has spent a lifetime learning to hide it. But last night the 28-year-old decided to be completely vulnerable and reveal her true self to the world.

It was give-you-goose-bumps authentic television. The episode was prompted by Megan’s recent TEDX talk at the Sydney Opera House where she faced her greatest fear and dared to stand up in front of a live audience and talk about (and thus reveal) her speech impediment.

Here’s just some of what she said last night on Australian Story:

(Please note: the transcript has come from the Australian Story producers and is written in such a way to depict Megan’s speech impediment for those unable to view the program.)

How Megan opened her TedX talk:

“I have a problem. It’s not the worst thing in the world, I’m fine, I’m not on fire, I know that other p-p-people have to deal with far worse things. But to me, l-l-language and m-m-music are inextricably linked, through one thing. And the thing is, that I have a s-s-stutter.”

On how her stutter magically disappears when she sings:

“Singing, for me is sweet relief. It is the only t-time when I f-feel f-fluent…”

“And yeah I always knew that there was no problem when I sing… of course it encouraged me to sing m-more. For me, like the s-stage was kind of a happy place actually because I wasn’t me. And it still is a happy place because i’m not, like, me. Me, but better.”

Techniques she uses to control her speech impediment:

Rebecca Sparrow.

“I had a lot of therapy, and a common form of treatment is to employ this technique called ‘smooth speech.’ Which is where you almost sing everything you say. You kind of join everything together in this very sing-song kindergarten manner, soothing, and you sound like you’ve had several Valium and everything’s nice. But that’s not actually me.”

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“And yeah and I went to a performing arts school in year 11 and year 12 .. …I did drama and acting is a bit like singing, speech isn’t a problem. When you speak in an accent, I don’t really st-stutter or when I speak in a voice, you know what I mean, or in a character’s voice.”

The decision to go public:

“The reason that I hate t-talking about my st-st-stutter so violently is because it’s such a personal thing, that it feels almost grotesque to discuss it, because it’s such an intimate sort of struggle that I have with myself.”

“I used to try and be all the things that I want to be whilst suppressing it or trying to disguise it. But now I think I’d like to be whatever I am despite it.”

This story is of course about more than a stutter or a stammer. The reason I loved last night’s show and Megan’s admission was because so many of us are living our lives with secrets and fears. We’re making our way through the world desperately hiding our flaws or our imperfections, hoping that nobody finds out the truth about us: that we’re in huge debt or that our marriage is crumbling, that we’re depressed or have some type of physical imperfection.

And living a life when you are constantly trying to hide something is exhausting. EXHAUSTING.

So I say brava to Megan Washington for being bold enough and brave enough to say to the world, “This is who I am” knowing that she is still loveable and worthy and valuable and SUPREMELY talented.

High-5 to that.

Can you relate to Megan’s story? Do you have a secret that you’ve been hiding from people in your life? Have you faced your greatest fear?

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