If there’s one #lifegoal I’ve always wanted to achieve, it would be to give a TEDx talk.
And that achievement was unlocked 2 weekends ago, at TEDxUPM.
But before I begin to talk about this experience (that I don’t think words can properly encapsulate), let me share a bit about how I found out about the news and back story.
It was last October, on a Thursday. I literally just came out of a client meeting (for my day job) and not feeling quite happy (okay, I wasn’t at all). Then out of the blue, Gian messages on Facebook and asks me if I’ve ever attended a TEDx talk.
I said no, I haven’t – but I’m hoping to attend (at least once in my life) sometime soon. Then he asks, “But what if I invite you to give a TEDx talk? For our school?”
Of course, my emotions started to play around inside my head and the first question I asked was, “Are you for real?!”. I’m not one to give talks (hello, introverted self) on a regular basis so this was pretty much a surprise to me.
I then spent that night doing quick research on giving TEDx talks (like downloading the speaker form and starting my habit of watching TED talks almost every day), did a bit of freelance work for the night, and cried. Yes, I freaking cried. I was so happy and overwhelmed at the same time (I just have a lot of feelings in general, LOL), and NEVER EVER have I imagined being given such a huge opportunity.
So in typical Abbey Sy fashion, I started coming up with so many questions in my head:
- What do I talk about? Lettering? Blogging? Creativity?
- How do I showcase my creative credibility (given that I’m such an introvert)?
- What topic am I going to focus on (among all the possible ideas that I am going to think of)?
- How to not stutter in front of a TEDx audience?
- What did I do to deserve this opportunity (ha, self-doubt issues 24/7)?
And over the (working) holidays (and my birthday month), I eventually figured out the answers bit by bit.
But the biggest question was this: How do I properly talk about my idea worth spreading?
Preparing for this talk was nerve wrecking. Aside from juggling holiday work and keeping up with my already abused (& crazy) schedule, I had to specifically block off days and nights to work on my TEDx talk. Of course, I didn’t want it to be half-baked, considering this is such a big thing that I am embarking on.(I would sometimes tell myself – psh, it’s just an 18-minute talk, no biggie – then I remember how it’s going to be uploaded on the TEDx library and how it will be forever broadcasted online, and it IS a TEDx talk after all – and then I freak out and panic again, HAH.)
There were so many angles that I wanted to focus on as I created the initial framework for my talk. But of course, I had to properly filter it out to concretely and effectively deliver my main takeaway – to Always Be Creating.
The idea of coming up with The ABCs of Life and Lettering came from me, but I sought advice from Bianca while I was brainstorming the key topics for my talk. I then spent countless nights collating the outline for my talk before finally sitting down with Gian (TEDxUPM head curator & organizer aka my super passionate + talented little brother) and clearing things out on their end.
It was frustrating, actually. I was always held back with my own episodes of self-doubt and questioned myself lots of times (what did I do to deserve this?) for the whole duration of the preparation, as well as having the mindset that I cannot write to save my life.
Which is true – I can’t. I wrote my initial script (after nights of having staring contests with my laptop) and then Tricie managed to magically transformed those words into a properly weaved story to tell for 18 minutes (best big sister/manager/writer award, please).
The first week of February was comprised of endless practicing and run throughs – every day, as much as I can. I don’t like memorizing (I’d rather do impromptu), but in this case, I knew I had to (well, I’d rather do so than freak out on stage okay).
The Big Day
I didn’t feel much of the pressure on the day of TEDx, partly because my family and most of my friends were there (hi Maine, Raniel and of course, Gian!). Although, the struggle of being the last speaker sparked up quite a fuss in my system during the first few hours – I was practically shaking when my name was called at around three in the afternoon.
To keep it short, I remembered everything. And the fondest memory I have of the TEDx stage is not being able to see the audience because of the blinding spotlight, lol. Kidding aside, I might have raised my own standards in giving talks now – which is good, I guess? Yup. *insert more pressure here*
The best part of every event, for me, is getting to meet and interact with the audience. While my talk centered on creativity and passion-pursuit, I made sure to craft it in a way that it would resonate to each one of us (even if you aren’t creative or artsy). Like always, I am overwhelmed with the crowd’s response and enthusiasm with my talk. I can’t say it was perfectly on point (nothing’s ever perfect anyway), but I do know in my heart that I could not have done it any other way. Nothing will ever reach that point of accomplishment in my life, ever.
Oh and I was interviewed by ETC after the event. I think it’s going to air in March. (photo by Raniel)
I slept that night feeling so much like my life steered its way to the direction I am headed towards. It was funny – because days after TEDxUPM, I found myself constantly questioning the things that I should really be doing (case in point: pursuing this as a full-time job). I also found myself realizing that this has triggered the commencement of #TheRoadtoABC, which is a good thing, I believe. The universe is finally trying to convince me to take that big leap. Ha.
And I finally have an answer to that last question I asked myself – What did I do to deserve this?
I worked hard.
I never gave up.
I didn’t wait. I just did it. I went for what my heart wanted, and made it happen.
And even if I know I’m nowhere near “great” or “up there”, I know in my heart that sharing the message I want to convey to people who are willing to hear it is already enough. It’s more than enough.
* * *
I want to extend my thanks to Gian and his team for inviting me to be a speaker, and for trusting me enough to share my idea to the world. It is such a wonderful privilege that I won’t ever forget in my lifetime.
And to the people who constantly supported me in this endeavor since day one (you all know who you are – family, friends, readers etc), thank you.
While I’m still crafting a summarized version of what I talked about during TEDxUPM (on the blog soon!), here’s a video of the event (c/o Rappler) in case you’d like to watch. (I come in at the latter part, by the way.)