The comfort zone is safe and cozy, but it's not where we grow. We learn when we dare and this is what I did today.
When David and Clare Hieatt asked me to talk at this year's DO Lectures; my answer was a swift but grateful no.
I don't do public speaking. At all. Not one bit.
After a couple of years plagued by panic attacks, it took me a good while to learn to look people in the eye again, for goodness sake. Standing up in front of a bunch of strangers? Nope. No, thank-you.
Plus I had never spoken about my ME. Not really. Not in writing, not out loud, not to anyone. It was too much, too scary, too big of a leap.
But then ...
What would I have given, when I first got sick, to hear someone speaking about this enigma of an illness from first hand experience? What would I have given to see for myself that it could all be okay?
Maybe the ignorance surrounding ME is a self perpetuating problem, caused by the fact that no one ever stands up, scared shitless, and tells their story. Did I really want to contribute to that prejudice? Or did I want to make a small dig at a solution?
I would have to be honest. Brutally honest. To myself and to the people I was talking to. It would be terrifying, but maybe it would be cathartic too.
I emailed back a timid 'yes'. There was no going back. Not even as I stepped, trembling, onto the DO stage.
There couldn't have been a more outstanding and receptive barn full of people to talk to, or a more welcoming environment in which to spill my whole life.
It was incredible. An experience of a lifetime. An opportunity I will be forever thankful for.
So to everyone who was in that barn. On the benches, in the doorways, on the floor: thank-you. Thank-you for being there. And listening.
- Photograph by the sickeningly talented Nick Hand.