I was selected to talk about an idea worth sharing for TEDx Cherry Creek and underestimated what that truly meant. My idea was how we can come together in the face of trauma and how I discovered the pillars of support that helped me through some major traumas in my life.
Through the process of preparing my TED talk, I figured out that I had not fully processed, or dealt with my traumas that I was going to be talking about. In the beginning, I struggled to develop my talk without getting uncontrollably emotional. After months of working with the TEDx Cherry Creek team, I had rehearsed, revamped, and reworded my talk hundreds of times.
The final rehearsal, I was a ball of nerves. “Can I finally get through this talk without crying?” I was asking myself. The talk went fantastic and I did still tear up at the end of it. The TEDx Cherry Creek team said that I was going to help so many people with my idea and that melted all the doubt away, in that moment. But the ball of nerves came back on TEDx live stream day…
The morning of the live stream, I had popped up out of bed at about 6am. I couldn’t sleep so; I got a cool 4 hour nap and rose to the occasion. The hair stylist was due at my house by 7am, so I got myself freshened up and dressed. With hair style completed, I rushed off to the makeup studio after frantically throwing a bag together for the day. We had to take snacks and everything with us as the venue was not going to have any of the usual comforts due to COVID. We were not allowed a live audience, outside of our TEDx Cherry Creek crew, either.
The makeup ran late, and I was a nervous wreck. Was I going to fall on my way out to the stage? What if I forget ALL of my talk? It was a struggle to drive undistracted as these and hundreds of other scenarios were running through my mind.
I got to the venue and quickly had to have a few pictures snapped on the TEDx carpet on the stage. The presenters and MCs gathered in a circle, while distancing, around the red carpet. A centering exercise-deep breath-hearing our hearts beat-positive energy… It was amazing!
I rushed to the dressing room as the first speaker took to the stage. I could not figure out if I needed to sit down or stand up. I kept taking my shoes off and putting them back on. I would pace and then stand, sit and then stand… I flipped through my notebook with my talk notes and was so anxious, I couldn’t even read anything on the pages. I decided to run through the talk with my slides (I brought my laptop). I was distracted by how well the first speaker was doing. This made me even more nervous. Am I going to be as good?
Soon, it was my turn to get to the standby deck. I was a hot mess! This is a theme for me lol. But something happened while I was waiting in the wings. I had a pep talk with myself. “Joanna, just remember-you are going to help so many people. Your message is powerful, your message is significant, your idea needs to be heard.”
I took a deep breath and my shoulders relaxed. I checked my hands by holding them out to check how steady they were. They were perfectly still. I heard my name and I walked out to the center of the stage.
The talk took over. The words just came naturally. The emotion was present, but it didn’t take over me.
Afterwards, the feeling was best described as grateful. Grateful for the opportunity, grateful for the amazing people that made this event possible. I walked back to the dressing room to the second session of presenters who had just watched my talk. They were so supportive and encouraging. But I craved my family.
I rushed out to the parking lot where my mom, my boyfriend, his mom, and his brother were waiting for me. As soon as they spotted me, I saw them all rushing towards me with tears streaming down their faces. That embrace was one of the sweetest moments that I will never forget.
My TEDx experience is something that changed my life. My only hope is that my talk helps someone else get through whatever they may be battling. Or, perhaps, that it helps others figure out how to be there for someone that they care about while they are struggling.
I can’t thank you enough TEDx Cherry Creek! It has been an absolute honor to be a part of such an amazing production and group of women. Thank you for bringing out the best in all of us.