Let's talk about diversity
Back in school, I never dreamed that I'd get over my fear of public speaking; let alone do it for fun. I vividly remember standing in front of the class presenting a book report or a history presentation with sweaty palms, knees shaking, hands trembling to the point where I couldn't read my messy scrawl...
Okay, not much has changed. After years of public speaking, TV interviews, online webinars, facilitaing skills sessions, and community conversations, my palms still sweat and if you look closely enough you can bet I'm a little shaky when I'm in front of a crowd.
So why do I continue to do it?
It's a lot of fun.
I get to tell my stories to folks who genuinely want to hear them. More importantly, I get to tell stories that matter. Every time I walk onto a stage infront of three hundred healthcare professionals and pick up a microphone, or step into a library with a cozy group of 6 attendees, I'm opening myself up. I'm sharing the most vulnerable parts of myself with complete strangers. Whether I'm talking about gender and sexuality, my history of mental illness, about neurodiversity and what it's like to be almost 36 years old when diagnosed with ADHD, or something altogether different, I get to connect with people who've had similar experiences. I can help normalize and de-stigmatize the important pieces of my identity. I can share truths and dispel inaccurate information. I can motivate. I can invigorate. I can make an entire room filled with people laugh. I can make them all cry (but I try not to, I promise).
Sharing stories and being vulnerable is the most important way to connect with each other. We all have things in common. We can all relate with something about every other person out there. It may be as obvious as the colour of our skin, or maybe the church we attend, but it may be an invisible connection that we had no idea existed. Perhaps we both experienced a similar tragedy. Maybe we're both new to the area. It's possible that we share the same health complications.
We are all humans.
When I get the honour and privilege to speak with groups, I get to bridge those connections. I get to inspire self-worth and and encourage self-reflection.
Maybe it's a high school graduation, or a quick, informal conversation with a local Family Support Services group. Maybe it's an international healthcare conference with hundreds of eyes staring up at me, attentive to every word I say.
It doesn't matter.
My palms will sweat. I'll most likely trip over my tongue more than a few times. But I'm ready for it.
Change is needed in our world today, and having open, interactive, and engaging conversation is the best way to get started.
So, let's do it.