This weekend I had the opportunity to share the story of the Grazer with 400 people.
Although I haven’t been blogging about this that much, I’ve actually been working tirelessly to prepare for this talk that I gave on October 9th. Like most of the things I do, it all came together during the last few weeks. Or days. Hours really. I was one of two student speakers at TECHedADVIS GAMEChangers at the Independence School in Newark, Delaware, a conference that discusses new ways to educate in independent schools. I was marketed as one of the students who has been changed by unconventional education, taking the opportunities given to me to follow my passion. Throughout the whole day at the conference leading up to the talk, I spent my time questioning whether or not the content of my talk was actually interesting or impressive or relevant. I even felt that what I was doing wasn’t original. I tore myself up over the possibility of forgetting my lines onstage, thinking that the smallest distraction would derail the everything. I even considered ditching the whole talk and not showing up for it. As my time to go on grew nearer and nearer, the adrenaline of getting onstage in front of 400 people spiked. I was herded to the green room, where the voice of the presenter before me played clearly through the speakers.
I hurried frantically to get the last couple read-overs of the speech I was about to orate, stretching in between to calm my nerves down. I became hyper aware to everything around me, fueled by the adrenaline pulsing through my body, and started to search for ways to give myself more confidence. Then the previous speaker, Milton Chen, a revered expert in multi-media education, said that he has never had a teenager thank his generation for the internet and the various other technologies of today. That was my chance. I would be the first teenager ever to thank Dr. Chen for his generations contributions, and simultaneously break the ice for my own talk.
Finally the talk ended, and it was my turn. My mic was switched on, and I went from the dark atmosphere of backstage, through the velvet curtains, and pushed out into the light. As of right now, I have no idea what my face looked like, but I’m sure it was ice white while I thanked Milton for the Internet. The joke went over well, and I was on to a good start. Words started flowing out of my mouth with ease, and I started to feel more relaxed on stage.
My eyes wondered through the crowd as I spoke, trying hard not to make eye contact with anyone in particular – but oh no – what I feared would happen happened. I noticed my friends who were really there to support me, got distracted, and the mindless stream of words stopped flowing. I started to choke, what do I do?! So I took a deep breath, laughed an anxious laugh, and reset myself on the right track.
From there on out it went smoothly, trying as hard as possible to look relaxed, probably overcompensating and acting a bit too normal. I gave my mom a shout out, my jokes got little half laughs (I’ll take it), and I got Milton Chen’s business card by the end of the conference. All in all, I’m glad that I shared my story. I was unsure in myself at first, but I realized that what I was presenting about was worth talking about. I knew what I was talking about better than anyone else in the room, and I was proud of it, and proud of the work I put into it. I have passion, and that’s all that matters.
Till next week…