Myrdin Thompson, Emerge Kentucky Class of 2013
Your palms are sweaty. You find that your back has tightened up. Your heart is going to leap out of your chest. As you stand there, you look around the room thinking “who am I to tell them why they should support this cause?” And because of that small seed of doubt, when you finally do start to speak, you stumble over your words, feeling like you are Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
Public speaking. It’s not everyone’s favorite thing to do, not even for those who do it on a regular basis. But it is something we can learn in order to share our stories. A story that, once told, will help create a bridge to common ground where perhaps there was only a chasm. By sharing the “why” of what we do, we are then able to ask others to do the “what” and share with them our “how” to get there.
So how do we feel confident when we tell our stories? We tell them in a safe place. A place where, over coffee and yogurt, we find a group of incredibly dynamic, interesting, and powerful women who decided to step outside of their own personally defined comfort zones on faith that their story has the merit and worth would spur others into action.
Cause + Action = Change.
In this first day as a group, we discovered that woven within the tapestries that make up our individual lives were common threads:
a love for education and the desire to see that all children receive a quality education regardless of socio-economic backgrounds and regional attitudes; a love for family and the desire that all persons in a community be provided with the means to earn an equitable living and reside in a decent home;
a zest for life and the desire that all be able to experience good health and have access to quality, affordable health care; a commitment to serve and the desire to give back to others as a public servant, working for the betterment of all and understanding that there will be sacrifice ahead but that the mission deserves dedication in order to be done right. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to practice sharing their story in a safe place. For some of us, this decision to place ourselves on a public platform has come after years of contemplation. For others, it is a natural second step on their life journey. Some of us have tried to share our stories in the past and been shut down or tuned out. As a result, we feel less confident, even when surrounded by women who have agreed from the onset to respect us as we tell our stories. Public speaking is an art. And like all art, it helps to have a teacher (we have several that we can tap into via Emerge Kentucky) and the tools to increase your ability and, as a result, your confidence.
Even a person who makes hundreds of presentations still needs to be able to make that presentation fresh and vital to the audience who has never heard her story. As Courtney Knapp shared with our group, it’s not the “what” that is exciting, but the “why.” It’s the “why” that makes us each unique. The “why” builds the connection, the relationship, which leads to the how we get to the “what” we want.
So, stand up, reach your arms up, open up your center. Then stand like Wonder Woman. Take a deep breath, look around and know “I’ve got this.” There is only one person who can tell your story, that’s YOU. But as you stand there, envision a group of women standing behind you, silently cheering you on. You are not alone. We’ve got your back.
We are Emerge Kentucky, Class of 2013.
And we aren’t going to stop until we change the world, one story at a time.