“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”― Maggie Kuhn
A few months ago, I was surprised when I received an email from the Vice President of an organization called “Youth Self Development”. When I was in high school, I was a part of this organization. Youth Self Development or YSD as it is commonly referred to as is an organization that helps high school students prepare for college. Their efforts include tutoring, mentoring, and granting scholarships for college. When I opened the email, I had to read it twice to see if I was actually reading it correctly. It was an offer to be the guest speaker at a graduation dinner. As much as I was hesitant, I knew I had to do it.
I gathered my wits and I replied to the email. I wrote “I will do it”. Immediately after I heard the swoosh sound, I shrieked. I couldn’t believe what I had just committed to. Even if I wanted to renege on the opportunity, it was too late – the VP already replied back, thanking me for agreeing to do this. Luckily though, I was able to put this in the back of my mind knowing that it was a month and a half away. But that month and half felt like a week’s time.
The weekend before the event, I was losing it. Not only was time not on my side, I was completely unprepared. I did not prepare a speech because I wanted to speak to the attendees authentically, but without a speech, I feared I would freeze up and forget what I wanted to say to the high school seniors. So, I decided to write my notes on flash cards.
The day of the speech was far from perfect. First off, I am fortunate enough to have a job where I could work from home. However, that day, my computer decided not to work. I wanted to work from home because I wanted to calm my nerves. But, I found myself on the bus heading to the office in New York.
When I finally returned home from work, I had literally 30 minutes to get ready. Once I was done, I grabbed my flashcards and hurried out of the house. When I arrived at the venue, it was the first time of the day I was able to read my flash cards. However, studying my flash cards was short lived as the guest started to arrive because it was now time to mingle.
Once dinner concluded, I was introduced as the evening’s guest speaker. I took a deep breathe, stood up, looked around, took the center stage, and spoke. Once the first word left my mouth, I felt empowered. And the rest is history.
As much as this endeavor frightened me, I did it. To be able to say that feels like greatness because life is solely about living. My definition of living is doing everything you possibly can. It means taking those chances, saying yes to every opportunity, trying new things, and making efforts every single day. It’s the things that scare you that are worth doing.
When was the last time you did something that scared you?