The Time I Spoke to 90 Teenagers…

The Time I Spoke to 90 Teenagers…

Written by Emilie

Topics: Speaking

The problem with putting your most personal content in your weekly emails is that sometimes you want to link back to a piece you wrote, and can’t.

In a sense, the ephemeral nature of the personal mass email is really nice. You can experiment with new ideas you’ve been pondering, get some thoughtful feedback, but it’s not permanently there, open and public for all eternally. Your words have a short life, so it’s a good space for experimentation and imperfection.

However, sometimes you get such a response to your emails, that you want to share them with everyone. I received 62 individual replies to this email, so obviously it resonated with you guys on some level.

This is for those who missed it.

***

I took a deep breath as I walked into the building. The familiar smell of high school hit me.

The students looked the same as they did when I was among them. Hoodies, slouching, skate shoes, couples clinging to each other, the occasional streak of pink hair. The goth population has probably decreased in the last ten years, but otherwise it felt very familiar. It wasn’t the same school I went to, but it had a similar vibe: small, alternative, weird, smart.

I remember a few weeks earlier, telling someone close to me that I didn’t know why I was willingly putting myself in the most uncomfortable situation I could imagine– on stage, in front of teenagers. Was I crazy?

“I think there’s something you need to revisit. You need to go back into that space and show yourself that you can handle it,” she replied.

So yesterday, the quiet girl who never raised her hand in class and actively tried not to be noticed in high school, returned to  that space and spoke.

I stood up there in front of 90 students and spoke about being a multipotentialite and what that means, what I do, and how to approach your career when you’ve got a lot of different interests.

When I decided to do this a few months back, I knew it would be scary. But I told myself that I was doing it for that one student who would be listening, who might be inspired or feel better about being into many things, and would go on to create something amazing. I was doing it for her. (Or him.)

Sure, there was the occasional yawn and giggle among friends. Teenagers are programed to appear uninterested. But as I spoke, I noticed some smiles and looks of understanding. Afterward, a few of them thanked me. One girl gave me a giant hug. Another stayed and told me about how she wants to do a double major in college. It was awesome.

Speaking to a group of 90 people is scary. Speaking to a group of 90 teenagers is really scary. But it was also an amazing experience that I will never forget.

And hey, after speaking to teenagers, that eventual Tedx gig that is on my Life List will be a breeze!

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Your Turn

Have you done something recently that scared you but was totally worthwhile?

7 Comments

  1. Benjamin says:

    I’ve decided to slightly restructure my website AND to include more personal stories from my adventures. Which is really scary (because some of them are sorta R-rated) and also confusing because it has me back wondering and questioning and figuring out…

    What am I really trying to say?
    Who am I really trying to help?

    I’ve already learned a ton about my overall mission and purpose… and I’m excited to see how it pans out with posting some of these stories. :/

  2. Larrah says:

    I started investing time in my alma mater and my mentor from 20 years ago. I have know idea where this is leading, but I feel a call to get involved. It is scary for me because I am a single mom/head of household of three kids under ten years old and puppy, work a full-time job at a law firm, and have every spare minute and penny tied up in fitness and my acting hobby. So I am afraid there isn’t room in the schedule or budget, but I feel called none-the-less. I think it has to do with the fact that the university is trying to establish a law school for non-traditional students, but ??? Oh, well, here goes.

  3. Josh says:

    I remember that email and thought it should be shared in the blog as well. It’s a great story, Emilee. Such a cool subject to talk about to a high school. When I was in high school hardly any out-of-the-box thinking or entrepreneurship was emphasized. Who knows what the next generation will come up with?

  4. Vee says:

    Great to see this kind of stuff. I admire your forging your own path, while facing some big (and very universal) fears, while inspiring the younger and older generations. I wish more people were this brave – the world would be very different.

    Total kudos to you, miss!

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