How giving a Ted Talk terrified me, made me stronger, and wasn’t as bad as I thought


As you passed by the doors to the lecture hall this week, did you happen to look in?

If you did, you saw a room packed to the brim with people. Maybe when you looked in, they were crying. Or maybe you saw them all laughing. They may have looked somber. They may have looked hopeful.

If you got the chance to actually come in and watch one of Ted Talks this week- as part of Ken George’s Honors English 10 course- you saw something a little different. You saw a person sharing a piece of themselves. You got to watch as teens- your peers- realized they had something special to share with the world. That they had something people wanted or needed to hear. Maybe it made you realize that you have something worthwhile too.

Maybe you were one of the people who stood in front of the room this week, on the edge of breaking down in fear, and shared a piece of your life with the world. Did you see the people who needed so desperately to hear what you were saying? Did you see how your experiences in life are so unique and amazing and give you a perspective on the world unlike anyone else?

This week, I got to be all three. I walked by and saw laughing and crying. I sat in the lecture hall and laughed and cried. I stood in front of my peers, my hands shaking uncontrollably, as I set down my pride and fear and showed people a piece of myself that I was terrified for them to see. But I did it. And maybe there was someone out there who needed to hear it. Maybe not. But either way, I still did it.

As I stood in front of you on Thursday and spoke, I realized just how much we are in this together. It was all of you who gave me strength. It was knowing you had been up here too, knowing you had supported me all year, knowing you were cheering me on and would still support me even if I forgot every word– that helped me feel strong.

To everyone else this week who got to be all three too: you’re amazing. You don’t even understand how amazing it is that you did a Ted Talk this week. Every day, as I sat in the lecture hall and watched Ted Talk after Ted Talk, I realized just how far we have come this year. Do you remember how scared we all were? It was so hard to get up in front of class and talk, even for the shortest amount of time. But we did it! And you should feel so proud of yourself. Even if it didn’t go the way you wanted to, you still accomplished so much by simply standing in front of that packed lecture hall.

So thank you. Thank you to the kids who went through this with me. Thank you to the kids who spoke because I needed to hear so much of what you had to say. Thank you to everyone who came and cheered me and my classmates on. And thank you, most of all, to Mr. George. You prepared us so well for this week. You stood by us this week. You dried the tears and fist-bumped us when our hands shook. We couldn’t have done this without you.