Image credit: Mark Kober
People sometimes make fun of me for how much I loved EFY (Especially for Youth) growing up. I went every summer, including the summer before I started college. I loved everything about EFY but especially the firesides given on Thursday evenings. These firesides literally changed my life. As I listened to the powerful messages, I realized what I wanted to do in my life! I wanted to be like those EFY directors. I wanted to share a meaningful message to masses of people, in hopes that what I said might influence them for good, or even, in my grandiose dreams, change their lives. From EFY, I decided I wanted to become a motivational speaker.
When I started college, I took a motivational speaking class but quickly learned I couldn’t major in it. So I chose another path. Now I am a licensed psychologist, specializing in eating disorders, and I find the work very fulfilling. But I never completely lost sight of my passion for public speaking. I geek out in front of TED talks on a regular basis, admiring the skill with which the presenters convey their messages. But one thing has become very clear to me: effective speakers not only master the art of presentation, but more importantly, they have a message. I don’t know what my message is. I feel too young and inexperienced to have anything worthwhile to offer others. This reality makes me feel discouraged and incredibly insecure.
But a while ago, I made the resolution that if I really want to be a motivational speaker, then I need to speak! I can’t wait until I’ve found my message and wrapped it up into an eloquent package. No, I will speak on whatever people ask me to speak on. In other words, no matter what, I will say yes. Whenever anyone asks me if I can talk to a particular group of people on a particular subject, I agree to do it! I believe through this resolve, I will probably botch a few talks, be less than inspiring in others, but I will also find my voice. I will learn to articulate myself well and motivate others. I will also find my passion and my platform.
So I say yes. So far this resolve has given me opportunities to speak at small venues, like a local Young Women in Excellence program, to also speaking at a large venue: Women’s Conference. As I pursue this, I am learning that people value my insights on eating disorders and body image. And I’m finding I have some important things to say on these topics. Is this my passion and platform? I’m not sure. It is something I’m passionate about and perhaps self-acceptance and love may be one of the messages I’d like to carry to the world. But I’m ok not knowing for sure right now. I trust the journey will lead me to find and refine my message. And I know that saying YES is the way I am going to get there. Saying YES now, in all my imperfections, inadequacies, and insecurities is empowering. I’m learning that even though I’m young and inexperienced, I have something to say. And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll give an EFY fireside or a TED talk!
Is there something you need to say yes to?
You can learn more about Anna and her career as a clinical psychologist by reading her Career Day Interview.