I have often said the TEDx experience was like a journey, and I still feel this to be true. For myself, though, it was another step in the journey of a story that continues to unfold, and one that I continue to write every single day - the book of my life. TEDx is yet another chapter, but it will always be one of special meaning to me because the story I told to that selection committee was a deeply personal one. I had never told it to anyone before, never tied together all the loose threads of my life in that way.
I had no idea if my story would interest anyone, or resonate. I told it to the selection committee, and when I finished I saw tears. And perhaps that was the first time I realized that maybe, just maybe, my story had value, and was worth being told. To be honest even if I had left that room that day and not been selected to present it would have been okay, because the reaction of those who heard it for the very first time had a profound impact on me. Days later, though, I learned I had been selected to present at TEDx Fort McMurray 2013.
I was excited. And terrified. Suddenly I went from having a story I had never shared to the prospect of sharing it with dozens of people. On a stage, under a light, and by myself. I will admit that there were times on this journey I doubted myself severely. There were times I considered just walking away from it, right until the night before the event when I briefly considered disappearing to Mexico. A friend, who had helped me rehearse, talked me off that ledge. They asked me to consider the irony of my fear given what my presentation was about - and they were right. There was no possible way I could come so far to give up, and no way I could let fear rule me now.
I have shared my feelings before about the TEDx event. I have shared what I went through during the audition day, and the day of the event, and so I will not belabour that point. When this video came across my desk one work day I felt the same fear and nervousness over again, and late that night, alone, I watched the video. That time on the stage was a blur for me, and I remembered so little of it. I needed to watch the video because I could not recall what I said or how. I watched it through to the end, and once again, just as on that day, I felt tears well up when the audience began to stand and applaud. I had been chosen to open Act Four, titled "Courage", and I don't often feel truly courageous - but in that moment I think, just maybe, I did.
I was so overwhelmed as I stood there, but if you look closely you can see I am mouthing something to the audience. I am, in fact, looking at the Intrepid Junior Blogger, standing in the second row as she gives her mother a standing ovation. And I am saying "I love you" to her.
You see in some ways I gave this presentation for me - to challenge my fears, to share my backstory, and, I hope, to perhaps help someone else who has experienced a similar journey in their life. In the end, though, I presented at TEDx Fort McMurray not for myself, but for the Intrepid Junior Blogger. It was about her and the journey of her life. I wanted to share my story with her, and to show her the incredible freedom in sharing your story with others.
I share this video with a mix of trepidation, pride, and outright fear. The truly amazing part, though, is that I could get on a stage and tell this story, and share it with anyone. Life is too short to spend it in fear - and I am no longer scared to live.