100 New Experiences – #24 Join Toastmasters

I joined Toastmasters because, honestly, I need to boost my self-confidence. I figured that public speaking in a warm, friendly, and no-pressure environment could help me improve my skills and my confidence. It’s an awesome organization and the local group I joined welcomed me with open arms.

I’m preparing my first speech now. It’s called The Ice Breaker. I’m supposed to use this speech as an opportunity to introduce myself to the group. I’ve never been good at introductions and when I started thinking about why, I came up with my speech. Take a look and let me know what you think.

“It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.”In her poem, The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer captured perfectly how I feel about introducing myself to new people. We need not be defined by the life we were born into. We’re not defined by the cars we drive, or the career we’ve chosen, or the size of our bank account. Who you really are – the real you – is what you feel to be true in your heart.

I’m going to skip the boring, generic parts of my life story and I’m going to share with you three truths I believe with my heart: 1) do things that scare you, 2) everyone has a story, and 3) be grateful.

They say that the magic happens about 25 ft outside of your comfort zone. The events that have altered the course of my life as I’ve gone along have all happened because I did something that scared me. From coming out to packing my car and moving back to Florida on a whim to, most recently, leaving the security of a job to make room for the possibility of what else is in store for me.

Each time I’ve been faced with a choice and I’ve chosen to do the thing that scares me, it’s changed my life in a way that I never could have imagined. Each time I’ve reached a bit outside of my comfort zone, I’ve opened myself up to a whole new realm of possibilities that I didn’t know existed. I’ve learned that you feel truly alive when you expose your vulnerabilities and do the things that scare you.

Next, remembering that everyone has a story helps me pretty much every time I’m in a checkout line and impatience escalates rapidly to irritability. I remember that the world doesn’t revolve around me and that everybody else here has a story. Some of these people are single moms struggling to make ends meet. Some of them are taking care of terminally-ill loved ones. Some just lost their job and have a family to support. But one thing is true for everyone: they all deserve a little empathy.

No one person is better than the next. We forget that. We forget it when we lose patience with the sales associate, the cable company, the waiter, or the telemarketer. Everyone you interact with has a story. If we all remember that, we can each do our part to make the world a better place.

Lastly, I strive to practice gratitude at every opportunity. I often will get caught up in the moment of a minor setback in life and develop tunnel vision. I have to make a conscious effort to stop every now and then, forget about all of the things I’m missing, and take a look around at all that I have. I wholeheartedly believe that gratitude is the key to happiness.

Life is how we perceive it. When we’re constantly focused on the things we don’t have, the world looks a little darker. If we’re grateful for what we do have, we see opportunities we would have missed if our attention was in the other direction.

In closing, I feel that who I am consists of what I feel to be true in my heart. We’re all collections of individual truths intricately woven together to create our individual moral codes. I am who I am because I do things that scare me, I always remember that everyone has a story, and I practice gratitude to gain perspective.

Now that you know a little more about me – the real me – I hope that you can all take a look inside yourselves and identify your own truths. I urge you to find out exactly what it is that sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away. And once you’ve found it, I hope you always live your truth.

Check out my progress and see the full list for my 100 New Experiences Project. 


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