Tomorrow I am scheduled as a Women at Noon Series speaker at Des Moines University. It was an honor to be asked to share my story, especially among the stellar line-up of exceptional women. It was not the first time I had been asked to speak about my journey but it felt like it. Part of the reason is that the event is open to the public. I have done a lot of speaking for private events. Being that this is open to the public, I have no idea how many people will show up - if any, and what they want to gain from hearing my story. That triggers my desire to please everyone as I try to imagine why anyone would be motivated to spend their lunch hour learning about me.
As I worried and wondered what to focus on, I thought to presentations I've heard in the past. The more personal the story, the more I related to the speaker. The vulnerability of being in front of a group and sharing innermost thoughts and experiences is a great show of humanity. I have had the privilege of having heard many speakers and their examples came to mind. It also filled me with doubt.
- Can I be as truthful as those who put it all out there and drew me in?
- How can I hold myself accountable to the truth?
As I prepared the presentation I kept telling myself to relax. I have spoken to large groups before. There is a reason I was asked to speak. I needed to own that. It's tough to do that when you aren't feeling in your prime.
The last few weeks have come with some parenting challenges that have made me question who I am at my core. I am in a constant state of processing that but when something brings that to the surface I become guarded and protective. I didn't want that to come across as me being less than honest in my story. I want to be like the speakers who have uplifted me. If people are going to take time out of their day to listen to me, I want them to go away with not only a message of hope, but a better picture of who I am. My goal is to connect with my audience at a level that surpasses the event and opens the door for further interaction. That means I can't be restrictive. I have to share the good along with the ugly.
There were and still are ugly parts of my journey. It is a daily part of my life and I am not alone in that. We all face the daily task of rising. For some it might be rising to get their day going because they face circumstances and situations they would rather not deal with. For others it might mean rising to an occasion they fear. We all walk paths of challenge and choices. Sometimes they are easier than others but it is the ones that want to knock us down that move us to choose to listen to the stories of others. We rely on their narratives to fuel our own. In the end, it is this that helps us choose to rise to our own destinies, even if the stories are unrelated.
With that as my guiding principal, I will rise to confront my doubts and insecurities and tell a story that comes from the deepest part of me. It won't be easy and I'll have to fake confidence with every word but I owe it to every listener who comes to find a piece of their story in mine. If nothing else, it is part of the legacy I hope to leave. It is part of my ultimate life goal to leave this world a little better than I found it, even if that is only true for one person.