Earlier this Summer, I heard about the opportunity to apply to speak at TEDx Temecula. The application process was simple: make a two-minute video talking about your idea and what makes you qualified to be an expert about it. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Few things in life prepare you for putting yourself, your ideas, out in the world for feedback, and potential rejection (more on this later). While I was feeling nervous about putting myself out there, I knew that I had to throw my hat in the ring. My life has changed because of the TED and TEDx talks I have watched. Ideas and experts I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to were at my fingertips.
Something TED has done in an expert fashion is make information more accessible. Holding conferences regularly allows people to convene and exchange ideas, information, and begin belief-shifting conversations. If you can’t afford to make it to one of the global conferences, then TEDx events are local-level conferences offering a similar experience on a slightly smaller scale. In the event you don’t have a TEDx event happening near by (or soon enough), you can catch TED and TEDx talks online. [I’m going to go down a rabbit hole here, feel free to join me or jump ahead to the next paragraph] While earning my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, I remember thinking “If more people knew this, it could change lives!”. Usually regarding relationships, the information wasn’t readily-available to the public; they’d have to either know where to look (in an expensive textbook) to find it on their own, or find a therapist and begin what can be a long, expensive (and valuable) process of examination and reflection. This is not meant to discount therapy. I have been both a participant and provider of therapy for years and believe in the value of the process; though the process is different from the information used to facilitate the process. I support therapy, I also support the democratization of life-changing information.
My idea was to discuss how people make themselves too busy to enjoy life. I’d experienced it, I had clients and co-workers complain about it, and I had seen it come up in academic and anecdotal research. I noticed people stacking their schedules to the brim, and stacking their kids’ schedules the same way. It seemed that people were competing to see who could be the busiest, but if a winner were ever chosen, would anyone even notice? Or would they be too busy running from one activity to the next to even pay attention? As I mentioned, I am not above this; I had the busiest week of my life earlier this year which is part of what raised my awareness of this trend in the first place. Once I noticed the problem though, I changed things in my life to support the schedule I wanted. When I saw others still complaining about being too busy but not making any changes to become less busy, I thought that either people weren’t aware there was an issue, or they didn’t know how to address it.
Idea, check! Now all I had to do was record a two-minute video and send it in. It’s become a habit of mine to let people know what goals I’m working on, because they end up helping you stay accountable. This doesn’t usually happen in a formal way, but in a casual way. This happened to me the evening of the application deadline. It was 7pm, and a friend asked me “Hey, did you apply for TEDx yet?”. She didn’t know the deadline was that evening, or what my idea was that I wanted to share. I got shy and replied “Not yet.” We talked about the idea I wanted to present and my friend (a young mom of three) said “That is a thing, especially with parents, you have to talk about that!” It was the little nudge I needed to take the leap. Putting my own fear of rejection aside and fueled by the idea that the information I had could help someone, I recorded my video and (many takes later) submitted it. And the waiting game began.
About a month later, the email came:
I was disappointed, though part of me was also proud and relieved. I had submitted an idea to TEDx! It had been a long-term goal of mine to speak at a TED event, and at least I had applied. It didn’t hurt to submit, and I knew that when the time was right, I would be able to submit another idea, or maybe even the same idea fully-baked. I patted myself on the back for trying, feeling proud that I had taken the leap even when I didn’t feel one hundred percent ready.
Four days later, an unexpected email landed in my inbox…
Find Part II here!