Journal Entry #17: Speak Up!

“Choosing courage over comfort”, as Brené Brown calls it, happens often for me at my public speaking and leadership club, Boston Toastmasters. I regularly choose courage over comfort by getting on-stage to speak, but I find opportunities to do so off-stage, too.

Mother Theresa. Image Source.

As the Toastmasters meeting was starting, I was rushing to hand out the few blank feedback forms I could find. I scrambled to my seat, knocking over someone’s things in the process, and began to hurriedly scribble my name on the remaining sheets so people would know it was mine.

Handing out leftover feedback slips was a last-minute attempt at receiving extra help with my Toastmasters district-level competition speech. Tonight, aside from the day before the contest, was the only opportunity I’d have to practice in front of a crowd; I needed to get as much out of it as possible. 

But, I hadn’t planned ahead, so by the time the meeting started, only three people had slips, I held the rest in my hand, and these people had no idea what to do with them.

I really need to tell people about these feedback slips, but…gahhhh…I really don’t want to interrupt the meeting…but I really need feedback!

I remembered a story then. Earlier that day, I’d watched Kevin Stamper’s speech called “Speak Up”, the third place speech in the 2017 World Championship of Speaking. 

Mother Theresa. Image Source.

He told a short story about his childhood babysitter, Kelly, and the hard-earned lesson she’d learned about asserting yourself. Kelly had become a nun and was named Sister Mercy by Mother Theresa, who had misheard Kelly’s request to be named Sister Nancy. When Kelly tried to complain to her convent’s Mother Superior, the Mother Superior said, “Sister Mercy, it is not [Mother Theresa’s] responsibility to hear you. [It is] your responsibility to speak up.”  

I knew what I wanted, just as Kelly had known, I just needed people to hear me. As our Club President finished her introduction, I raised my hand and said, “I need extra feedback on my speech today and have some slips that I’ll pass backwards. If people could fill them out, I’d really appreciate it.” 

The Club President nodded and I handed my feedback forms out.

Yes! I did it!

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