Carole Blueweiss

I Didn’t Give Up

What does ”giving up” mean? : I found this explanation:

“Stopping efforts due to a belief that success is unlikely or the challenge is too difficult.” Chat GPT

Yesterday I gave a TEDx talk in front of about 500 people about the importance of challenging balance in everyday activities. I wrote an important and well-organized talk, with the help of a coach. I practiced and practiced for a very long time. I’m not one to brag about my memory, but I believed that if I practiced over and over in different situations, in front of photos of family members dead and alive, in front of bobbleheads; staring at the mirror; face timing and zooming with people in different environments (once while in a toy store); and even giving the talk to my husband while air conditioner repair men were walking about making noise, I would be ok on the day of the event.

This is what happened: I walked on stage, and started my talk, and the words came out until they didn’t. Complete blankness, no color, just emptiness, like my brain turned into a deep well and the words fell down so deep I could not retrieve them.

I remained calm, waiting for the words to re-enter my brain, but they didn’t come as I would have hoped, until some words returned but I knew it was not in the order I had written them. I said them out loud and then it happened again…I paused and the next words were the ones that concluded my talk, so I spoke those words… I managed a beginning a middle and an end, but so much of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, was missing. What remains in my memory is merely a blur.

I was shocked that this could happen, but I didn’t cry because I knew it was beyond my control, and I had done my best. It was like a brain disconnect happened that I could not have anticipated. All I could control was my reaction. I stayed calm and was patient. I was able to conclude the talk and then disappeared off stage into the arms of a stranger who had his arms ready to hug me and tell me it was not as bad as I probably felt. Then he went on stage and began his talk but not before acknowledging my courage. WOW!

After my talk, during the break, people walked up to me to express their appreciation for the message, and that they will reconsider how they put on their socks from now on. This idea was exactly what I had hoped would resonate in my talk. So while I thought I had not delivered my message, actually what I had not delivered was the “argument” that backed up my message. Apparently, people got the gist — that we must not give up when we think an activity is challenging, and instead, embrace it, try and try again. The example I gave in my talk was about building better balance one sock at a time.

I decided to take my own advice and ask if I could have another chance to deliver my talk. The organizers agreed to re-tape my talk at the end of the event. So that is what I did. I got back on stage for take 2 and spoke all the way through, glancing at my notes twice. But I knew my performance was not the important part, it was my message I needed to get out. While I did not come off as a polished speaker, I did not give up.

Now I wait for the video to be put together. The amazing editors will do their best. I feel as though it will be icing on the cake. The process I had to go through to complete this talk was meaningful in its own right. The beautiful experience of meeting new amazing people, including the other speakers, supporting them and feeling their support for me, reinforced for me, the importance of community. My sense that just trying and “failing” and trying again may just be the way to grow. My mistake would have been to give up and I didn’t give up. Instead, I took another risk. I tried again. I know there is more work to be done, and I’m ready to move on.