So, those of you following this blog should by now know that I have a goal to become something much larger than I currently am. Most of you probably don’t know how shy and scared I am when it comes to talking to large crowds though. With a new coordinator at our Jr. High that really understands the benefits of listening to other people and their stories and experiences, I was asked to share mine. As much as this scared the crap out of me there was no way I was going to turn this offer and start to my mission down.
Quite honestly, I was unaware of how emotional I would get when speaking to our athletes at school about my life. I found out how emotional I would get the night before when I decided to record what I had planned to say and practice it with no cards and no paper. I started recording my speech on the way home in my car and I found myself driving down the road looking through tears that wouldn’t stop.
I found this very odd. I have told my story to 100’s if not 1000’s of people. Mostly strangers in one on one conversations but still. I didn’t shed many tears when I went through my life struggles and I didn’t shed tears while sharing it all these years either. It all changed when I knew I would be in front of Jr. High athletes and I had could possibly really change or at least affect their outlook on life.
And let me add, the older I get the more emotional I have become. During sporting events of my team, I tear up when a player does something good and looks at me with the satisfaction on their faces. I tear up when we come together and lift each other up when we are losing. I tear up when we win. I tear up at pep rallies when the band does an awesome job. I tear up when I look around and see every student in our school saying the pledge or singing the national anthem with respect. I’ve become soft with my age and I only owe that to the wisdom that has come along with that age and experiences.
What transpired my speech? Well, we are currently in the middle of a fundraiser for our athletic department. Coach Whiteside decided it would be a good idea for me to tell my story and then we use my bracelets and T-shirts as incentives for them to raise certain amounts. When she had this idea I was most certainly thinking that the kids were not going to listen to my story very well and they most definitely wouldn’t be pumped on getting bracelets or a shirt, but this was my chance to tell my story in a setting I was already somewhat comfortable in, so why not give it a go?!
In preparation, I started out the very night she brought the idea to the table. When I laid down that I night I got my notebook in which I write everything and I began my speech. Not much thought, I just had thoughts and wrote them down. I shared it with my fellow coaches and got some insight and things I should add. A few days later I came up with some more stuff I could include and go into detail about that would be good to also include in my story. Then I decided to turn my written speech into a set of index cards. Each index card was numbered and had the key topics and key lines I didn’t want to leave out on them.
I then decided to just tell my story and record it, with no cards for help. I did this three times and I got choked up and shed tears every time and quickly realized those index cards were going to be sort of useless but I would have them just in case. I knew I was gonna be battling tears during my speech and it made me want to cancel. But that’s not who I am. I don’t chicken out. I jump out of planes, I’ve zip-lined, I’ve para-sailed, and I’ve skied down a mountain. We all know I can speak so tears or not the show must go on. So I kept going and I kept preparing. I would record, listen, change some stuff. Record, listen, change some more stuff. I had critiqued it enough that there was no more point in recording it again. I knew I would be flustered and scared so at this point, I had practiced it enough and it would be whatever I was able to produce at that time.
I wasn’t that nervous about it the morning of. I didn’t put much thought into the whole day actually. I was MUCH more nervous the day of the pep rally in which I had to announce my team into that stupid microphone. I didn’t even get nervous at all until Coach Whiteside did her little introduction for me. That was the moment where my brain thought, “Why in the freaking world did you agree to this?!”. It seems like I keep agreeing to things lately that make me feel uncomfortable and right when its time to do those things my brain whats to punish me. One lesson I’ve learned in life is, when your brain is beating you up, you tell it to shut up because after all, you are the one in control of that thing.
I started my speech and at this point, I can’t even tell you what all I said. I just went with it. I had my index cards in my hand the entire time and I looked at them one time. I looked at them maybe 40 minutes into my speech. Failure? No. I had said it and practice it and read it enough I was pretty much right on track to what I had planned. And literally at that moment I realized, I was telling my life story. I was telling my experiences and the things that shaped me, the things that I was thankful for, and the thoughts and mindset that got me where I am today. Why did I think I ever even needed cards to explain all that?!
I cried. I cried a few times. Weirdly, I cried because I didn’t cry during any of the real-life events that I talked about that made me cry. So, why did I cry now? That’s where my wisdom comes into play. I had NO IDEA what those experiences were teaching me back then. I had NO IDEA how things were affecting me then. I had NO IDEA how strong I was in some of the worst moments of my life. But I realize that now when I tell my story and you know what, I’m proud of myself too. I have always been a person so hard on myself, always thinking I could have done better, tried harder, or been more honest. I’m not good at ever really sitting back and telling myself good job and that just as important as many other things in life. We don’t need to overlook all the things we accomplish in life and we need to congratulate ourselves from time to time.
I get it when people say I don’t know how you do/did it now. Because I think I’ve finally grasped the fact that I’m not that certain how I did it then either. My only explanation is, I did what had to be done.
And that’s the mentality I live by in every aspect of my life. Sometimes what has to be done is not easy. Sometimes you don’t understand why you have to do what you have to do. Sometimes it seems like what has to be done is unfair. The trick to life is this. It may not always be easy, you don’t always have to understand, and sometimes it can seem very unfair. But, none of that actually matters. It has to be done and it is your job to get it done. You simply have to accept what is and always keep moving forward.
Keep moving forward is my goal. Slowly but surely I will keep conquering new fears and goals and by doing that I will continue to make gains in my life for years to come. I surely hope anyone reading this has goals they are chasing. I believe with the right amount of work we can accomplish absolutely anything we want!
One more thing to add. A fellow co-worker told me the next day how one of the athletes had brought my speech up at church that evening. She told her that I cried during it and when my co-worker asked her how it probably made me feel to share my story the little girl told her it probably made me feel better. Yes, yes sweet child, it did make me feel better. It made me feel a little more empowered to and I really hope it empowered you as well.
All things, my dear friends, are possible.
6 thoughts on “My Very First Speech”
Inspirational! Keep up the good work! God Bless!
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Thank you much!
Proud of ya! Keep it up. You have overcome a lot! Very inspiring!
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Thanks Aunt Jane! Couldn’t have done what I’ve done without my amazing family!
Thank you Flowers for being the strength and reminder that I need sometimes too. I forwarded your post to my family who is physically so far away from me everyday to let them know, “peace…I am making a difference and I am NOT alone. I get to work and coach with change agents while I’m away”.
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Oh indeed. You have truly inspired me and I know your a positive change in the girls lives as well! I’m so happy we have crossed paths!!