If you ask me if I was ready to present a month ago, I would say yes. Not because I was actually ready but I was at the point that I just wanted to get it over with. The truth is, I wasn’t ready. My script was still all over the place and my slides were mediocre.
As days passed by, I was getting more nervous and tripled my practice time (though I have a cheat day – to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday). I was still changing things up, removing some points, adding visuals. But on Monday (5 days before), I suddenly felt calm. I didn’t feel stress anymore. As I sat at my parents living room, I could see myself on stage. Calm, composed, and happy. I didn’t let that beautiful image slip my mind and I carried it to bed that night.
On Friday, just the day before, I had a small incident that could’ve been bad. I slipped and twisted my left ankle while carrying Quinn’s cage down the stairs. I stretched my ankle right away and thankfully it was fine.
When I arrived at Science World, a few of the other speakers were already there and we caught up as like old friends. I personally think it’s quite remarkable how we bonded and wanted each other to succeed. And so rehearsal went on pretty well despite some technical difficulties.
When I went on stage to rehearse, I was excited more than anything but a few minutes in, I got lost in the sea of darkness with only one very, very bright light that sat right in front of me, blindingly staring at me. I gulped. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Am I going to choke too? No. I am not going to let that happen.
It was pretty difficult to shake that feeling off, especially after listening to the other speakers. I was really proud of them, but they intimidated me too. They all seemed pretty comfortable with their talks and I had a mini mental breakdown. I rushed to the washroom and cried it out.
That night, I got home feeling pretty awake despite the fact that I just spent 7 hours at the TEDxKids@BC rehearsal and SIAT 10th Year Anniversary Gala. I laid awake in my bed just staring at the ceiling for awhile, not even thinking about anything, just staring. It almost felt like I’ve done the gig. I felt like there was nothing else I could do at that point but to just stare. I fell asleep eventually and woke up to my alarm ringing loudly in my ears at 7 a.m. I looked at it and decided to snooze before realizing I had to be at Science World by 8. I got up immediately, brushed my teeth, straightened my hair, grabbed a pear, and rushed out the door.
I was still making tiny changes when I got there and decided to run it in my head a few more times before I realized it’s 9 and people should already be signing in by now. I called Kingsley. He didn’t pick up. I called him again. Nothing. He just flew in from Saskatchewan late last night so I knew he would have a hard time waking up in the morning. I called him 38 other times and he finally woke up and apologized over and over again. If it was other time, I would probably be mad, but at that time, I didn’t. I just needed him to get here as soon as possible to give me moral support.
I looked at the clock again, it’s 9:15. I was supposed to go on stage at 10:30. Lots of time to kill. Should I practice some more or should I just relax? I decided to take a few quiet moments to myself and I prayed. Again, I felt pretty serene, but to distract myself from stressing out again, I decided to listen to Lose Yourself by Eminem like I always do before any presentation. A few other speakers joined me and we danced it out. Soon Kingsley showed up and joined the dance party. I felt better. I hugged him for awhile and he whispered some sweet words to my ears. I looked at my surroundings again and thought about all the blessings I’ve had this past week, year, decades and I instantly felt grateful for the friends and family I have supporting me in the audience and from home, my mentors, and every single friendly stranger I met. It was an uplifting feeling and for once my heart didn’t beat frantically before a presentation. Especially for a presentation with this big scope of an audience.
As they put the headset on me, I took a few deep breaths. Kingsley gave me some shoulder massages, Riri gave me a big hug, and the AV team were high fiving me as I made my way out to the stage. There it was. The moment I have been waiting for. The moment I have been working so hard for. Here’s my stage and here’s my audience. They’re all mine.
I looked at the sea of blackness. I couldn’t see anything at that moment, but I could see my family and friends’ smiles. I could feel their energy lifting me up.
Honestly, I couldn’t remember a single word that came out of my mouth. They just flowed out of my mouth somehow. I don’t know how but they did. All I could remember was the bright light and the feeling I felt. That was pretty magical.
As soon as I stepped out the stage, tears came down my eyes and I couldn’t stop them from flowing. I couldn’t remember what I said, I told the backstage crew as I sobbed. Kingsley cheered me up and said I did well. I didn’t want to believe him and said “You’re biased though. It’s your job as a boyfriend to say that.” I continued crying as we made our way to the seats. Our TEDx coach, Rowand, was sitting beside me and he gave me a fist bump. Job well done, he said. I stopped myself from crying and just let myself sunk in to the chair.
It was pretty difficult to meet my mom, sister, and friends during break because I was embarrassed. I thought I haven’t made them proud. They hugged me and gave me high fives for my accomplishment. I still felt pretty numb but accepted their love and support and was very grateful to have them. We took pictures and made our way to the lunch area. When I got there, a few kids came up to me to thank me for my speech. They said it was very inspiring and it was their favourite talk. I tried to hold my tears back. I was so honoured and so humbled. So so so honoured and humbled.
The rest of the day just went on so quickly. I was on auto mode. I still felt pretty numb because I still couldn’t remember my talk, but I was happy to see other speakers speak and I also stayed a few hours after to chat with some more people, attend the workshops, and even enjoy Science World.
A few days have passed and I still can’t believe it was over. So many people reached out to congratulate and thank me for my TEDx talk and it’s more than I could ever imagine. I felt incredibly blessed to be given this wonderful opportunity to get up on the TEDx stage at this age and I am so inspired to help others get themselves out there too. It’s such a long-winded journey but it was really, really worth it. I really couldn’t have done it without the amazing support I have from my parents, sisters, Jeanette, Destin, Elaiza, Crystal, Marina, Thiago, Kingsley, Kennett, Diana, Jillian, Richard, Sandra, Rowand, all the speakers, and other amazing individuals.
I went home, reviewed my slides, and watched my video that my sister filmed. I might be biased but I did better than I thought I did. Much, much better than I thought. But there’s still a huge room of improvement. I want to work on my pauses, stance, annunciation, flow, and so many other things. Although TEDxKids@BC has passed, my work is not done. I’m still going to continue spreading my passion and knowledge out there and work on my presentation skills.