As I was making the fifteen-minute drive to Pasadena, site of my impending TEDx talk, I turned on the radio in search of some musical inspiration that would both pump me up and quell my nerves. I knew this day would come when I decided to share my story on the TEDx stage. But now that it was here, it felt surreal. Preparing for it had become part of my daily life – I carefully chose every word, rehearsed it alone in my apartment and in front of any friend who would listen. And, more often than not, I danced in that confident space that I could deliver this speech just as I had been successfully practicing it countless times. I was excited and ready. Not just in an “I got this” way – but in an “I have arrived, and no more playing small” way.
Sure, I had my moments of doubt, but each time they crept in I gently pushed them away, finding that soulful center that had always created a safe haven and guided me intuitively forward. For me, following a burning desire to follow my inner voice, or even just a hunch, often turns out to be beautiful and unexpected. So, when I turned on that radio, I was taken aback to hear these exact lyrics, “There’s no place to hide, but I don’t think I’m scared.”
Those words cut me to the core. That was going to be me in only an hour! I would be on the TEDx stage in front of a large, live audience with cameras rolling, and had no place to hide. But was I scared?
The lyrics hit me hard, and raw emotion came pouring through me. Instead of fear, I felt validation hitting me square between the eyes, saying “You are ready, you are prepared, and you deserve this moment.” I recalled all the things I had worked so hard to do just to be able to stand on that stage: speech classes, Toastmasters, co-hosting my own radio show, acting and improv work, creating my own workshop, and writing books. It had been a challenging march, fluctuating between courage, doubt, bordering on self-flagellation, to gain enough confidence to share my story in front of others.
Although each step strengthened my foundation, that foundation was about to be tested. Would I be rock steady, as I let down my shields and insecurities in front of that packed theater? I thought so. My tears were a tangible reaction to the lyrics; my intuitive inner knowing supported the tears. I was ready. I wanted this test. I knew I could and would welcome the audience sharing in my vulnerability.
When we share our truths, pains, and imperfections, we shine light on our true essence. It brings us closer together as a community because that is what I believe we all truly desire in our lives: authenticity…and sharing, offering, and receiving that creates joy. When we reveal ourselves, we stand unencumbered in truth: there is no place to hide.
Living authentically and openly this way is freeing: I have never felt more free than when I walked off that TEDx talk stage after sharing my journey with (potentially) the world. I want to continue to stand on that stage, albeit a figurative one, as I move forward with more adventure, learning and sharing. There is quite a beautiful view to be had up there. And I know I’m not scared. And I don’t think you are either.
G. Brian Benson