Recently I ran into my high school musical theatre teacher and he invited me to speak to his Grade 9-12 musical theatre class. I was excited to do it but thought…what would I say? Why did he ask me? He said “Well, teenagers look up to 20 something year old adults and actually listen to them!” I laughed and thought about it. Made sense and that was how I was at that age. So, I agreed to it.
Then this week I visited the high school theatre where eleven years ago I played the wolf in the musical Into The Woods. Memories flooded my mind when I entered the room. It was a real rush and I loved it! About 20 students showed up and gathered around with eyes bulging and ears intently listening. Public speaking doesn’t make me nervous but my presentation content does. I need to be confident and knowledgeable about what words and concepts I am about to share, otherwise I will doubt myself and lose the audience. So for this presentation I decided to speak about traveling and branding yourself. I had jotted down some points beforehand but I find the best, most influential speeches come from the heart and are not scripted. Being prepared Vs. being a robot.
I showed some photos of my recent 6 month internship in Jamaica and spoke about the organic beauty of traveling. To me, traveling is necessary because it pushes you outside of your comfort zone forcing you to adapt to unknown circumstances, allowing you to experience new excitement, and to meet extraordinary people. Sure you can read about Portugal, listen to reggae music and eat Thai food, but if you visit the countries where things originate, you will learn more than you would any other way.
Branding yourself means you recognize your uniqueness and establish a significant presence in the world. To do this you need to know who you are and what ignites you. In other words, reflect upon yourself. One of the biggest life exercises I’ve come to realize and appreciate is self-reflection and I believe it is the backbone to learning, growth and positive development.
The takeaways? Try new things. Travel. Do what feels right to you, not what others recommend for you. Stay true to yourself. Talk less, listen more, and keep asking questions. Jump. Act on your curiosity. Show lovingkindness. And make no assumptions.
After 30 minutes of speaking to and chatting with the kids, I left with a happy heart. Unforeseen opportunities like these have always been the most rewarding and I hope more will appear in the future.