Last Sunday I participated in an event that was totally against character for me. I spoke in public, telling a fairly personal story about my life. The event was called Herstory and it involved a bunch of women entrepreneurs speaking about a part of their lives in a ‘I used to… and now I….’ format. I agreed to do it because I was afraid to. One of the reasons I like my job is the oodles of alone time I get to spend. To say I’m an introvert is, well totally true. Speaking in public is not necessarily something I fear intensely, but certainly not something on my life list. I would simply prefer not to in general. Marianne, who runs the program, asked me to participate right after my birthday and I had been thinking about pushing outside of my comfort zone right then. So she caught me at exactly the right time and I agreed to do it.
I have to say there was a lot of support getting to the podium. Marianne arranged a bunch of phone and in person meetings where all the participants could hash out ideas and get them in order. It started with making long lists of ‘I used to and now I’s and them whittled from there. About a dozen women participated and we all told each other our stories. It was kind of amazing what started to come up. I started the project thinking I didn’t have much to tell. I’ve had the odd adventure or two, but between feeling like there was an awful lot I wanted to keep private and feeling like maybe if I did not have a triumphal message to relate, I wasn’t sure what I was going to tell.
After a bit of meandering I realized that the story I wanted to tell WAS about meandering! I have had a lot of different jobs throughout my career and lived in a lot of places. After landing in a place where I could no longer hop away when the going got tough, I finally had to face some demons. And while the odd demon pops up on a pretty regular basis, I can honestly say I am at least in place where I am ready to face it down rather than pack my bags and find another new beginning.
So that was the story I told, in a nutshell. I practiced a lot to feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I have to admit I was a bit nervous as my turn approached, but when I got up there, I felt alright. Not awesome, but good enough. There’s that line from the Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall- I’ll know my song well before I start singing. I was thinking of that, to a less epic extent.
I wasn’t surprised I got through it ok, but what surprised me was how many women came up to me afterwards and told me that their stories were very similar and they could totally relate. That was super cool, finding out how not alone I am in this.