Speaking in front of audiences (large or small) has never really been challenging for me in the past. Now mind you, it wasn't something I craved or volunteered to do, but when asked, I usually step in and do it. But as I got older, I was finding myself becoming less and less motivated to step out there "unedited", and I wanted to know why? Was it a growing shyness towards crowds given I actually have an introverted nature? Was I a creature of social media where anything you say or do could be highly scrutinized, sometimes with unbearable consequences? It took a little time to figure it out, but I've decided it is not so much the number of people listening, watching, and waiting to hear what I'm about to impart as much as it is my having the confidence to share and believe that what I have to offer is noteworthy.
I did a speaking engagement for a prominent women’s organization last year and I must admit, I felt like a total loser afterwards. I veered away from my notes, I felt I was rambling because the woman directly in front of me was nodding off and I cut the speech short to get the heck out of there. Even after the organizers thanked me, gave me a beautiful plaque and honorary membership into their organization, I felt like a total fraud. I was prepared #BEYOND, and I was amped up and ready to go when I parked my car and ushered in my Mom to attend the event with me. And as I walked into the event space, I was introduced to these powerhouse women--doctors, lawyers, judges, executive media professionals, corporate executives--who were warriors in their field. I immediately thought, WHAT ON EARTH COULD I POSSIBLY IMPART ON THESE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL WOMEN THAT WOULD BE WORTH A LISTEN? And so...I told myself, "absolutely nothing at all". When they called my name after a wonderful introduction, I approached the mic, looked around, and choked. After my short and underwhelming speech, they applauded, thanked me, took pictures with me, and all the while I was looking to find the closest hole to crawl into. Yup, it was that bad. I felt like a fraud in that moment and it took months before I would even consider doing any other speaking engagements.
Well...this is what I’ve learned since then and my ultimate takeaway going into this new season of transition and renewal.
I have a voice and I have something to say that is worth hearing! Sure, there are people who have accomplished more, have been celebrated more, have more life experiences to share, etc. but NOBODY has MY life experiences and NOBODY can speak on it with my signature flair! In reflection, I realize I had "gotten into my head" and the doubts just flowed in the form of fear. Before I knew it, I had set sail with no point of return--even while I was giving the speech! I wasn't focused on my talking points at all. Honestly, I owe that organization a redo!! It didn't matter that THEY asked me to be there and give the keynote address. It didn't matter that they voiced their praise of me and my accomplishments with the talk show, The Writer's Haven Show, and my two upcoming book releases before I even took the mic. Nope...all I thought was the women in that room are super heroes...and I forgot I was, too!
We are all unique, creative and inspiring in our own way and we need not feel less than (or jealous) about what someone else has going for them. That’s THEIR #shine...YOU’VE got your own shine to cultivate, enhance and illuminate! Work your magic in you’re own lane!
Now, fully over myself, I can’t wait to speak to the folks gathered at tonight’s I Have A Dream Inde Film Showcase in VA. It will be a great discussion on the impact our culture, environment, and general way of life has on our cinematic storytelling. Tonight, I'm going to be my own hype girl, and I'm #BELIEVINGMYOWNHYPE! Why? Because what I have to offer makes me worthy to have a seat at the table AND say grace!