09 Jan Do you have the courage to share your story?
Q: I’m just wondering, what made you decide to become a motivational speaker?
A: Ever since I can remember I have been singing and performing. As for speaking, I was in Grade 5 when my teacher told us we had to write a speech about optimism and then read it in front of the class. One student from each class was then chosen to say their speech in front of the entire school – that person was me!
My teacher encouraged me to enter the Optimist Club public speaking competition where I would be competing with other speakers from different schools. It was nerve racking at first, but I chose to ‘feel the fear’ and have the courage to do it anyway. Even though I was nervous, I enjoyed public speaking so much that in my early teens I became a speaker for a group that I was a member of – Alateen – a support group for young people who have a person in their life who is an alcoholic.
Around the same time, my parents began arguing a lot, which then lead to their divorce. I was also facing challenges at school with a boy who was making fun of me almost every day. My self-esteem was on the decline. I was in such emotional pain that it was hard to focus on my school work because I was more concerned with what was going on in my personal life. It‘s hard to believe in yourself, to be confident, to be resilient when you have challenging emotions and circumstances.
When my mum recognized that I was struggling she made the decision to enrol me in my first personal development program. I learned about choices and ways to help me move through the pain I was feeling. I learned life tools that helped me and still help me, to be the best I can be. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of possibility and hope.
Now fast forward to age 19 – a principal in London Ontario asked me to sing at her school. This really changed everything for me. I went to her school and after I finished singing, some of the students started asking me questions about my life. I began sharing my experiences, along with the life tools I was using to move through these challenging circumstances. Seeing the enthusiasm of the students and educators made me realize that I loved the format of singing and speaking. It would take me a few more years to create what is now my full time passion – motivational presentations in which I share my personal story along with the skills that have helped me bounce back, build my confidence and create healthy mental well-being.
I want people of all ages to be aware that, even though our stories may be different, we aren’t alone – that we all matter – that life is not always easy and that the challenges we face are chapters of our life not our whole story!
Until next time…