I can’t believe it has been an entire year since I kicked off my website!
“I am so blessed to finally kick-off and support a personal goal I have circumvented for years! Cannot thank everyone enough for making dream a reality.”
The social media caption from the initial post remains true. I am forever humbled by the amount of love I have from family, friends, and strangers – both near and far. I initially decided to use this website to share information on how to find your passions, speak life to your dreams, and ultimately walk in purpose. However, this website slowly became more than just space to share my thoughts with the world.
It became a place where I found my voice.
For many who’ve had a conversation with me, this may sound crazy. “What do you mean you found your voice? You’re a public speaker. You’ve spoken in front of hundreds of people before!” This is true, but it’s more than just hearing my thoughts echo in the atmosphere. Over this year, I have become fluent in sharing my values system without using the caveat, “does that make sense?” I have acknowledged my own purpose of speaking with college students about how they want to be change agents on their campus and within their community. Most importantly, I have accepted that whatever I say is a direct reflection of my relationship with God.
And this was not easy.
Transitioning back to Ohio for graduate school was harder than I anticipated. All of what I had become normal and consistent was south of the Mason-Dixon line. My daily routine of going to class, clinicals, and work had been replaced by meetings on top of meetings. However, my journey to freedom required these changes in my lifestyle and decision-making as I was no longer in a familiar place that could make excuses for my shortcomings. I was now exposed in a new environment where both opportunity and danger arrived at the same time. I gave into opportunity and chose isolation over temporary moments of community. I lost some friends in the process, but sometimes you have to upset a few people to do the right thing.
When your pursuit is greater than your pain, you’re unstoppable.
Since September 2015, I have traveled to 11 campuses and have spoken to hundreds of students. I don’t like calling myself a public speaker because I don’t believe I am informing, persuading, nor entertaining live audiences with my speech. I’ll never forget when I was first asked to come speak at Millikin University. The question I kept asking myself on trip to Illinois was “why me?” What I did not realize was that God was providing me a platform to share my testimony of what happens when I am quiet and listen to and for God’s voice.
There are still times when I question my gift to connect with diverse student populations. There also times when I doubt that I am “qualified enough” to be standing in front of my peers and telling them what it means to be resilient and lead with purpose. Instead of giving in to fear, I eat my Mike & Ike’s (literally before every speaking engagement) and pray that God allow His thoughts to occupy my mind and His words to flow from my mouth.
As a result – I found myself speaking to God in public and in places I would not have visited otherwise.
Sharing my testimony continues to be one of the most vulnerable experiences every time I speak. Yes, I get nervous and sometimes stumble over my words. Yes, I have been exhausted traveling to and from different campuses, while balancing my other responsibilities as a graduate student. But through the journey, I have found my voice. And I have met many students and professionals who are also finding their voice. People who are committed to living their life by design, and not default. It is through this relationship building where I have found peace. Peace that individual voices can harmonize and produce transformational change.
So, what are you waiting for?
How are you using your voice today to help make tomorrow a better place?
When you’re early, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.
Encourage somebody to be great today!