I may stop talking about Toastmasters but it’s really unlikely. I’m enjoying it. You would too. COME.
Every meeting I try something new (most often through gentle nudging and persuasion by Georgina, one of the action team at the pre-charter Witham group.) and this week it was to give an ‘Icebreaker’ speech to the audience. An Icebreaker is a 4-6 minute speech about you. An introduction, a way to get to know a newbie a bit better. It was terrifying to stand up and do it but I DID IT! I’m so proud I did, and the length of time in which I cringe afterwards is getting shorter.
I am never gonna be Luther King, never aim for Emma Watson’s prowess, but each step takes me closer to being a successful Dawn. Hopefully.
Here’s the transcript of my speech for those who weren’t there (most of you) and those who WERE there but due to my MEGA SUPER SPEED (I managed to knock 30 seconds off my practice time by gabbling it out like a cat throwing up) missed or didn’t digest it all and maybe wanted to, or just plain like to read this blog that is this week, full of my speech. Either way. It’s here:
“WORDS ARE MY LIFE. If I feel sad or stressed, I open a book and don’t come out until I’m better. If I want to laugh, I watch stand-up comedians play with language. If I’m happy, I write about it. But words haven’t always been my life.
I was clever at school but never really applied myself. It took me to get to rock bottom to learn that I needed other people’s words in order to survive. Tonight, I’d like to share with you some quotes that changed my life.
It was Borges who, in his poem Instants, said:
‘If I could live again my life,
in the next -I’ll try,
to make more mistakes,’
When I read this poem for the first time, I remember it struck me deeply. If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading it, the poem mentions the things he wishes he’d done in life, how the tiny things add up to a life. Moments make a life. At the time I was someone who had made a huge mistake and I was stuck inside of it. I was at university and I hated it. I was in an alien place with no real friends, a different county to my girlfriend-and I was a very little fish in a very big pond. It had been overwhelming, and it trod me into someone even shyer than I was before. I wasn’t prepared for depression-who is? It took me out from the knees and never fought fair. I took self-defence classes to try to fight back-but it was my head that needed those, not my fists.
It didn’t understand that until I read that poem.
I was suicidal. I didn’t recognise myself in a mirror, was on autopilot. I honestly believe I was getting ready to die until one day, some celebrity mentioned this poem in an interview and I looked it up. I found these words of a man who wanted to make these mistakes, treasured them, decided they made a life. I got to the end, and it turns out he can’t do any of these things: Borges is dying and he knows it. This dying man inspired me to jump into the unknown. I feared death, yes, but I also feared dying with regret as much as I feared dying young. I was more afraid of that than I was of the reaction of my friends, family, and of the world for becoming a university dropout with no better plan.
I quit uni, fought the sadness, and won, and maybe I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have those words.
A few months after this, I was at home in my mum’s house, trying and failing to find a job, and toying with the idea of writing for a living. I was convincing myself it was a terrible idea, that I wasn’t good enough, then I found this quote:
‘Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary.’
Steve Jobs said this. I saw it and it made me think I wasn’t crazy, that I should give writing a go, even if I wasn’t good. Even if it turned out to be just for me. So I did. And I loved it. I think it saved me, too. It was these words that inspired me to write and carry on and this is what I’ve done with it:
thanks to this quote, I have continued to pursue writing, which has given me confidence and focus and improved my work ethic. I’ve got three manuscripts in progress and I compiled my own poetry anthology. I’d recommend these quotes. They’re very motivating.
Thirdly, recently I’ve been feeling a bit low, stuck in a job that isn’t doing much for me and finding it hard to get something new.
‘Everything we want is on the other side of fear’ said George Addair.
When I found the flyer for this club, I debated whether or not to come along and see. I thought it might be good for the future to improve my public speaking voice, in case writing leads to being asked to speak- well, we can hope. The thing that held me back was fear. Total, blinding fear of the unknown and of public speaking.
Then I realised that I’d been through this before: my happiness was on the other side of fear as I sat in my depression at uni.
Writing was on the other side of fear as I searched for what to do with my life after that. I realised that facing my fears has often lead to rewards and things I wouldn’t have done if I’d gone along with what I was told or what felt safe. So I came to toastmasters.
I decided I had nothing to lose and that I’d peep over the fence of my fear, and to my surprise, I’m still here. I’m not good at this, but I’m starting to think one day I could be. I’m still afraid, but I’m here. The fear just stops you trying, but it never really leaves. Not listening to it has left me happier. In standing here and letting life take the reins, I’m on the other side of fear.
And I like it.
So here we are. The words of others revived me and inspired me. These people will never know they changed my life and possibly saved it.
Already in these past weeks I’ve found myself inspired and in awe of what others have achieved with Toastmasters. What can our words do for each other? And what might you find on the other side of YOUR fear? I’ll leave you with these questions.
Thank you, Toastmaster.”
There we are. A speech in which I came out about both depression and sexuality. Ta-dah. As first speeches go, I think it was fairly revealing!
Doctor I resembled most this week:
I call this one ‘seeing the monster before it sees you and realising what you’ve gotten yourself into’ or ‘speech face’