It was a surreal moment when I opened my inbox and discovered a congratulations email for being selected to speak on the TEDxCherryCreekWomen stage. To be honest, I think I’m still processing. That’s not a bad thing though, because the best experiences are worth savoring as long as possible. My journey to the TEDx stage was not conventional. I’d love to say that it all started when I went to a TEDx event and watched each speaker share their powerful and inspiring message. I wish I could say this was the moment I created a vision of myself doing the same. Instead, my journey began 5 years ago when I lost my mother unexpectedly. Her death, while extremely painful, became a catalyst in my life that caused me to reflect on the ways I was living small in my life because of fear. Grief can be our greatest teacher and its presence is a beautiful reminder that life is worth the risk to dream greater than your current circumstances. I made a promise to myself to surrender my fear over and embrace the potential that life might have in store for me. Little did I know that life was calling me towards discovering my voice.
It wasn’t long after making that promise that I found myself on an auditorium stage awaiting the voting results to become a National Delegate. I never thought of myself as a political person and definitely not as a speaker. Matter of fact, when it came to public speaking, my whole body would shake, lips would tremble, and my brain would painstakingly search for the words to construct a sentence. Have you ever heard the statistic that says that the majority of people would consider death over public speaking? That was probably me. And yet, somehow, I found myself on a stage, sharing my love for community and becoming a newly elected National Delegate.
As a delegate, I found myself in various situations where I had to speak. That experience became a crash course in recognizing that voice was important and I would need to learn how to get comfortable with mine. Then I discovered Toastmasters, a safe space that allowed me to grow in my voice. I did an exercise to write down the goals I wanted achieve in public speaking. Brené Brown came to my mind as I remembered the incredible message she shared from the TEDx stage about vulnerability. I remember wondering if I could ever do that. The voice of fear said, “Impossible, no way.” However, the promise I made to myself to surrender fear over to potential had me writing down “Give a TED Talk”. I stared at the paper wondering, “In what world would I ever find myself speaking on a TEDx Stage?”
The following year, I applied to give a TED talk after my speaking coach, Karyn Ruth White, encouraged me to apply as a speaker. With butterflies in my stomach, I submitted my application. There may or may not have been some hyperventilating after clicking the “Submit” button. Unfortunately (or fortunately for my nerves), I wasn’t selected. The following year, she reached out to me again and encouraged me to apply. I could have let the fear of rejection stop me, but the promise I made to myself led me to submit my application. Today I find myself preparing a talk for the TEDx stage and I am both terrified and thrilled.
I’m extremely excited to share my idea worth spreading on the TEDxCherryCreekWomen stage. It is a message very close to my heart and one that I feel is central to the times we are in as we reimagine and reinvent our world together. How exactly does one craft a powerful, inspiring, and thought-provoking talk within a 12-minute window? I’m in the process of learning how to do that, which is probably the most challenging part, and also a rich and rewarding experience. Perhaps you, like me, are wondering if you could ever make it to the TEDx stage. I would remind you that life begins at the end of your comfort zone and all you have to do is surrender your fear over to your greatest potential.