What I learned from speaking five times in four days

What I learned from speaking five times in four days | Jennifer Spoelma

This is such a post to write. Recently, I shared that I was cutting back on a few tangent projects to focus on promoting my book, Tell It Well. Last weekend was the culmination of all that focus. I got to fly up to Michigan and speak to five different audiences about the power of knowing and sharing your story. It was magical!

Of course, it was also crazy. But I had planned on that. I purposefully stacked multiple events into a single weekend and prepared a specialized message for each of them. I knew it was going to demand a lot, but it was so worth it.

I'm excited to share some of the things I learned from the experience. Because whether or not speaking is your thing, I'm sure you'll be able to relate.

What I learned from speaking five times in four days:

I learned that my default reaction when I am afraid or uncertain is to quit.

I have a habit of giving up on myself. I never realized that though until I started preparing for my events. Quitting on myself doesn't look like one big decision to stop, it's a lot sneakier than that. It shows itself through procrastination, snoozing my alarm, eating poorly which leads to a foggy brain, or going dark on social media/communication (that I should be using to connect and invite others into what I'm creating).

These are sneaky because they make me feel like I have excuses. "I was too busy to do any preparation today," "I'm not feeling well, so I'll just rest instead of work," or, for social media, "Anything I share will just be adding to the noise."

But really? I just get get scared. Terrified, sometimes. Scared of failure, and, I'm finding, that what I may be most afraid of is success. You may roll your eyes at that, but hear me out. 'Success' leads to uncertainty. And pressure. And more responsibility. And what if I can't handle it? Those unknowns make me shut down faster than just about anything.

Jennifer Spoelma at the Empowered Story Sharing Workshop. Photo by Troy Spoelma
Jennifer Spoelma at the Empowered Story Sharing Workshop. Photo by Troy Spoelma

So, one of the reasons I booked multiple events at once was to help me overcome these barriers. Because when you are speaking five different times, you need to prepare. There was not an ounce of me thinking 'Well, if you don't get around to it, you can just wing it.' No way! I started practicing and preparing 8 weeks out. And you know what? That endurance made me proud. It also gave me the confidence of being prepared.

Last Sunday night, after my final event, I called my husband and my first words (shouted with a big smile) were "I DIDN'T QUIT! I DIDN'T GIVE UP ON MYSELF! I FINISHED WITHOUT FREAKING OUT!" It felt so good to say that.

If you haven't felt proud of yourself lately, I challenge you to take a look inside. Are you quitting on yourself? If so, what is one thing you can do to protect yourself from tapping out early?

I learned that pursuing connection is always worth it.

I'm tempted to write an exhaustive list of everyone who blessed me with their time, stories and connections this past week. But I'll restrain myself.

When I was at EverGreen Ministries one night, I was back stage with the worship team. We talked about transactional relationships, what that term meant and why it can be damaging to humanity. Essentially, a transactional relationship looks at 'What I can I get from this person/relationship?' whereas on the other side of the spectrum relationships are based off of valuing, respecting, bettering or learning from the other.

I was intrigued by this conversation, and it gave me the framework to process what made my speaking weekend such a blessing. For example: I spoke to strangers most of the weekend. But afterwards, some of those strangers came up to me and introduced themselves to me. They hugged me, even cried with me. Some of them shared their stories with me, or took the opportunity to speak life into my journey.

Jennifer Spoelma speaking at EverGreen Ministries youth group.
Jennifer Spoelma speaking at EverGreen Ministries youth group.

But at one event, my workshop, I spoke to a group of people that know me very well. And they blessed me with connection by granting me the grace and support I needed to grow into someone 'new'. They were willing to participate, open up and had a willingness to learn and grow. And that meant so much to me.

Then, I spoke to elementary kids at Northpointe. That opportunity grew out of a 6-month collaboration with the principal and teachers. I had never met them face to face before last weekend, but they have believed in me, challenged me and helped me to create kid's curriculum based off of Tell It Well. It's based on relationship, and it's all so humbling for me.

Jennifer Spoelma speaks at Northpointe Elementary. Photo by Troy Spoelma.
Jennifer Spoelma speaks at Northpointe Elementary. Photo by Troy Spoelma.

To sum it up, I'm learning how good and wise and life-giving it is to pursue relationships over opportunities. I think my personality leads very naturally to this, but I'm thankful that this weekend gave me a chance to see that truth plainly.

With the holiday this week, I hope you seek connection and relationship with your loved ones. And with whatever else your week may hold, make yourself proud. <3