A couple of weeks ago, I had the awesome privilege of sharing a part of my story (my personal story, that is) at an event in my town. When I was first approached about speaking at this event, I was left speechless . . . but not for the reasons that you might think.
For a lot of people, speaking in front of a crowd is about equal to asking them to poke their eyes out. But for some reason, I am not afraid of public speaking. I realize this might seem strange coming from a person who spends much of her day behind her computer screen instead of being “out amongst the people” (that one’s for you, Dad!). But, it’s true. Fear of public speaking was not the source of my speechlessness.
So, what was it?
I realized pretty quickly that my speechlessness stemmed from a nagging uncertainty about whether I was even “qualified” to speak on the topic. I knew that I intellectually agreed with it, and that my way of life supported my beliefs on the subject. But, I still wasn’t sure if my life story had enough substance (or enough exciting details!) to inspire an audience for 15 minutes.
I decided I needed to think about it and promised that I would let them know as soon as I could. Well, wouldn’t you know that I could not stop thinking about it. And, I don’t just mean “thinking about it” in general. Oh no. Even in the half-consciousness of sleep, my mind was formulating ideas, phrases, and even entire sentences of my as-of-yet-not-even-decided-if-I’m-going-to-give-it speech. Events of the past fifteen years (both life-shaping and seemingly mundane) suddenly took on new meaning and had new purpose in light of my mind’s focus on the topic at hand.
I think I had my answer. I decided to share my story.
I literally had to force myself to sit down and write my story (yes, even us writers sometimes have to make ourselves do the very thing we usually love to do). I had made a few disjointed notes over the previous few days, but other than those, I was starting from scratch. But, to my delight, the words started spilling out of me onto the screen. Page 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7. And, the story I needed to tell that day was complete.
And then, I was really speechless.
You see, every detail I wrote about that day, I already knew. But, what I didn’t know until I wrote it was how it all fit together. And how it all fit together was what left me speechless. The authenticity, the vulnerability, and the honesty that was required to write what I did did not leave me uncomfortable, fearful of rejection, or threatened to be misunderstood (though I could have been).
Rather, it left me thankful that I’d taken the time to write it down. It left me energized. It left me with a deeper sense of purpose. It left me content with where the bumpy path of my life has taken me. It left me hopeful.
So, I’ll encourage you again (remember this post!) to take the time to write out a part of your personal story. You just might be surprised what you uncover!