There I was dressed to the nines, feeling excited and also teary eyed. I kept telling myself that this is such a ridiculous feeling. Who gets teary eyed at conventions? So, I walked into the ball room, pretending to have it under control and started talking to people around me. I started hearing things like “This is so emotional”, “It gets me every time”. I realized that I was not alone in my “nerdy-ness”. I was with fellow nerds! Ah, the sweet feeling of belonging.
All this fan fare within me were the plethora of feelings at the Toastmasters International Convention in Washington D.C . In order to understand why I was teary eyed, we have to go back 13 years in the past, when I first heard about Toastmasters. I joined the club because I felt alone in a foreign land; wanted a sense of belonging. My life moved on. I survived my life initially and then slowly learned to thrive in my life and with my life. Toastmasters was still a part of what I was doing but reflecting back, I think I was half-a*sing my way through Toastmasters ! And as with everything, you get from Toastmasters what you put into it. What I am eternally grateful for is my relentless curiosity about myself and about my life. It was that curiosity that made me go within me, challenge myself in ways that I thought was not possible.Through my personal (r)evolution , I committed to myself that I am going to leave a legacy for women in India and around the world and I am going to do that by being the best version of myself daily! There I was, smug with contentment. I found my purpose and that is that ; till the curiosity within me reared its beautiful head again a few years later.
“Living my best life with the best version of myself is still playing small. I think you can dream bigger’ said me to myself. “Why?!” shot back the mirror. “Because when you commit to something way bigger than yourself, then you give yourself AND everyone else a chance around you to be a better version of themselves. Do you not owe that to the world?”. “Silence”; “Sigh”;” Why do I ask all these questions to myself?”.
After the initial argument within me died down, I recognized the truth behind committing to something bigger than me. I am not going to give myself an out; there is no half-a*sing my way through life. In asking this question of myself, I realized that what I was doing earlier with Toastmasters is reflective of what I was doing with my life too. I was committing to certain things in life and not so much to others because commitment in those areas meant a whole new level of vulnerability. I was not evolved enough to think along those lines YET.
Then, I learned to embrace those parts of my life, which required more courage from me. Once you learn to stand on your feet fully, then you learn to lean on others too, knowing that leaning is not a burden but a welcome act of interdependence, both for you and the giver! Right around the time when I started to dream about visions that are bigger than me, I attended the International convention in DC and that was when I realized that I already am a part of something so much bigger than me. Ergo the teary eyed damsel, dressed to the nines in the ballroom!
With ~140 countries represented across the world in one single stage, with men & women across the world speaking about servant leadership as though it was their second nature now, I realized that all the half-a*sing that I did with my life earlier was most appropriate for me at that point in my life. Because there were lessons to be learned before I could commit to something bigger than me and embrace it with authentic audacity.
Now, I can and will commit to one of my big desires – to be the International President of Toastmasters International – to leave a legacy for women around the world that it is possible to HAVE IT ALL. And HAVE IT ALL by including all, by being an embodiment of feminine leadership in a world that has more managers than leaders, where masculine models of leadership are celebrated and welcome more than the feminine forms. Towards that end, I am going to continue to become more of who I am ; I will continue to become the leader that men & women like and respect, creating a space where people feel they belong, that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. Will world peace be far away, if I did this ;if we did this?