Wow. What an interesting two weeks. If someone would have told me two months ago how this would go I might have approached these weeks with some trepidation. But, perhaps, that is just how life is. We never know what’s around the corner so we push through and accept what life gives us.
In 2010 I was asked to share my story of anxiety and depression. I did start talking about it and seems that I continue to talk about it. Normally I share bits of my journey in presentations or workshops that address stress management information. It becomes relatively easy then to pull in pieces of my story to throw in life experiences into theory to make sense of it.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity share and present to a group in Alberta. The afternoon included a workshop for people dealing with farmers or as I like calling them, service providers. In the evening the County hosted a dinner for their rate payers. I was given the opportunity to share my story and participate on a panel of “experts” on stress management. What a great opportunity and learning experience. I always maintain that we learn so much from sharing stories and experiences.
As I waited at the airport for my flight to Edmonton I wandered into a bookstore. One of the first books that caught my eye was one written by Chris Anderson entitled Ted Talks, The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. That may possibly be the most interesting and helpful book I have ever bought. I read that all the way to Edmonton and when I got to my hotel I began to rejig my presentations.
Through the process of preparing for Alberta I also knew that the following week I was presenting at the AgEx conference in Winnipeg. Although, in typical fashion, when I agreed to that I gave little to no thought of what I was committing to. The difference on this one was that I was part of a panel and so my role was to only tell my story and I had eighteen minutes to tell it. As the time came closer and after reading the book I had an inkling that I might be in for a challenge. So instead of freewheeling it, like I normally would, I decided to write out the entire presentation and just read it. That part actually goes against everything I read in the book but I also recognized my limitations.
As I reflected on and wrote out my story I also became keenly aware that I was drilling deeper into my past than I had before. There were pieces that brought out emotions that I had not expected. So I had a feeling that presenting this in front of 200 people could well overwhelm me. I was not wrong. It turned out to be the most difficult presentation I have ever made. I found myself significantly outside my comfort zone.
As I look back on that day I find myself feeling various emotions. Yes, I felt vulnerable but that’s okay. I was quite emotional before, during and after. That’s okay too. The response from people was incredible which was awesome. And, as per usual, the part I liked best was others coming to validate what I had said, share their own experiences, or ask for help for others that were traveling a similar journey as my own. I like it. Reiterated what I have said for years. TALK ABOUT IT. Make it a good one.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” C. S. Lewis