I am no stranger to public speaking. I have spoken on countless platforms from the steps of commencement at The University of Texas at Austin to the TEDx stage at Syracuse University, but every time I’m asked to give remarks I’m just as nervous as the first time.
I have a love-hate relationship with the stage. It intimidates me and brings out the best in me. From an outsider’s perspective, my pre-speaking routine is pretty bizarre. If you listen closely in the mornings, you can hear me talking to myself emphatically in the shower. I’m practicing my inflection and almost always using my hands. Needless to say, my fingers are prunes by the time I’m done. I hardly ever memorize my speeches anymore. I prefer the art of storytelling. I believe that if what you’re saying is true, it will flow from your heart.
Before I get on stage, you can find me pacing back and forth, murmuring my remarks under my breath. Most likely, my stomach is turning and my body is tingling. I’m not certain if I’m having an allergic reaction to this speaking opportunity or just feeling nervous energy. Whatever it is, as soon as I step onto the stage, everything fades away and I transform into my public speaker persona. She is my alter-ego. Timi Komo, the girl boss. The fashion philanthropy crusader. She easily charms the crowd, demanding their attention. Gone are her awkward mannerisms. No one can tell she used to be tremendously shy in middle school. She is so bold that sometimes she overwhelms me.
I am not always that girl that people see on stage. That fact used to make me feel a bit like an impostor. Being on a platform gives the added (and often unrealistic) pressure that you always have to be ON. And although you don’t owe anyone perfection, you do owe yourself a healthy dose of self-love. I have learned to embrace the duplicity of my personality. I can deliver a killer presentation to a crowd of hundreds and I can also do an interpretative dance to Disney’s “Frozen” soundtrack for preschoolers. Both sides of me offer something of value. Quirky, confident, dramatic, or pensive– I am worthy of love.
I never want to lose my human, unpolished side. It is part of my essence. I am constantly growing into my true authentic self and I challenge everyone to do the same. I challenge you: Find out who you are when no one’s watching. Examine your natural reaction to adversity (tweet this). Explore your maximum impact environment. These aspects are crucial if we’re want to be leaders that actually make a difference in the world around us.