As I walked out on stage in front of over 1500 people...
I found that I was much calmer than I expected to be. Rather than nerves taking over, I found the voice in my head saying, “you’re in front of 1500 of your closest friends.” And it turned out to be true.
Jaron and I were invited to co-host TEDxUF 2016, one of the largest events of its kind in the North Central Florida area. TEDxUF is an annual event, free and open to the public, dedicated to spreading ideas worth sharing. Hosting an event like this is something that Jaron and I both felt honored to be asked to do, but it was also the biggest event I’d ever been a part of. Jaron gave a TEDxUF talk two years ago (that you can find here) but I had never spoken in front of that many people before. Although I expected stage fright to kick in, it didn’t and I think the reason is that I knew in my heart that I wasn’t there to shine. I was there to help others to shine.
Our role was to introduce each presenter, and provide something of a cohesive through-line for the TED talks. It was a real privilege to be able to introduce these exceptional speakers. From Jennifer Aponte’s moving and poetic letter to her daughter to Wade Davis’ account of coming to terms with his identity as a gay man in the NFL, every presentation was life-changing and eye-opening. A moment that really stands out to me is the question: “what is your taco?” (Watch Benny Torres’ talk “Don’t Get Mad, Get Mad Men” when it’s available to see what this refers to.)
And it really helped that the people in attendance are some of the best people I’ve ever met.
Self Narrate has participated in TEDxUF each year since 2014 in different capacities and every year, we make amazing new connections, both in the business “networking” sense but also as personal friends. In 2014, I met Leanna Scachetti, at the time, a journalism student, who became a cherished personal friend who I’m happy to see is a successful news reporter in Panama City.
At TEDxUF 2015, I met Payal Khurana at the TEDxUF lab, and have been inspired by her entrepeneurial endeavors and desire to promote mindfulness in Gainesville for the last year. It was so exciting to see her give her TEDx talk this year! The amazing audience of TEDxUF is why I was so happy to have made it my bachelor party.
Yes, TEDxUF was my bachelor party.
I got married the next morning. The biggest event I’ve ever participated in, followed only a few hours by one of the most important moments in my life. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way.
TEDxUF 2016 was unforgettable for many reasons: the atmosphere, the life-changing talks, the proximity to my wedding (and let’s not forget the food!). I can’t wait for TEDxUF 2017.