TEDxDetroit

TED talks have been something I was introduced to years ago. I’ve watched so many of them, always through the computer screen, thinking how lucky the people in the audience were to be in the presence of such greatness, to be in moments of such great inspiration and calls to action. This year, I found out early that there is a TEDxDetroit event that happens each year, and when I discovered that tickets were on sale, I immediately bought one, not caring that I would need to take a day off of work, not caring that I was going alone, not caring about anything except the overwhelming excitement of what could happen.

The months went by and before I knew it, the event was here. In full disclosure, I had actually forgotten about the event in the chaos of house-hunting and moving, so I didn’t even really have time to look up the speakers or learn about the schedule, so I basically showed up the day of with an open heart and hope that I would come away inspired and challenged.

I arrived about 10 minutes before the start of the first session, and most of the floor seats were already gone, so I just found a quiet area in the back, still in good visual range, and made myself comfortable. As the video started to roll, announcing the beginning, I felt tears pricking my eyes, and I knew this was going to be a meaningful day.

It would take too long to recount each and every speaker I saw, and the various ways in which I was inspired, touched, moved, and challenged, but I thought I would just try and explain what I came away with.

The biggest moment for me came between the second and third session, after I had been watching countless people speak on their risks, their failures, their successes, fears and joys. Something broke open inside of me that said “I think I could do this. I think I could be an entrepreneur.” Now, an entrepreneur of what? That, I’m not exactly sure of, but of something. Ownership of something that is mine, something that I envision, create and build. My first thought was an art gallery because it is something that I am truly passionate about, but upon further contemplation, I think what I really love most about the gallery idea is the community aspect. I love having people gather. I love a group of people coming together to be inspired. To have a good time. To be loved on and to feel a part of something bigger.

Side note: One of the speakers at TEDxDetroit spoke about 5 Whys and it’s a concept I hadn’t previously heard of, but when he quickly explained it, it stuck in my head, and I found myself asking the “why” question as I thought through the gallery idea over the past week. It’s been really intriguing. If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, you can read a bit about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Whys

So, ergo, here I am, sitting with a vague idea of a business, but not quite the whole vision, but that’s OK. See, I’ve never really been good at long-term goals. I know this may come as a shock to many of you, but I’m a pretty impatient person. Yeah, I know: shocked. (that was sarcasm) I’m pretty sure any person I meet sees my impatience within a very short amount of time, or at least learns about it when they find out I up and moved across the country within 4 months of visiting Detroit. I’ve always been someone that once I put my mind to something, I want it done yesterday. I like results. I love fulfilling a goal or dream. I love achieving. It’s like a drug for me. But a business, a whole career change, a financial venture of this magnitude cannot happen in 4 months, or even a year. This is the very definition of a long-term plan. Like, maybe even a decade-long plan. And maybe that’s a bigger part of this whole thing that I am learning, to slow-down and look beyond the here and now.

Now, mark my words, I can already see myself getting annoyed by this process in a month or three, and wanting to throw in the whole towel, but I’m hoping that I can keep the little embers going, that I can find things to do that will keep me pushing forward until I reach a point where I could actually launch something of my own. I have a feeling my friends will keep me engaged and spur me on, encouraging me to go for it. I’ve truly got the best friends in the world.

Second side note: Isn’t it amazing when your friends see your whole potential when you only see a fraction? And isn’t it always funny that you can see theirs but never your own? If everyone doesn’t have people like this in your lives, I hope you put it out to the universe that you want friends like this, because there is absolutely nothing greater.

There was once a place I went to in Atlanta, and it kind of changed my life. This was back in 2015, when I had first started traveling, and having a few days in Atlanta by myself was one of those life-changing moments. I had done a random search for a place to see live poetry or music and found this great bar/cafe that had everything I wanted: soul food, booze, open-mic poetry, live art, and a community of welcoming people. The host of the night opened the night with a sort-of prayer, a call to us all to open our hearts and to be present with each other, to embrace everyone as our family of the evening. It was so beautiful and powerful and left me in tears.

Fast forward three years, and I can’t believe I’m sitting here contemplating how I could open a similar place. How I could create an environment like that and how happy that would make me.

So much has changed since 2015, both externally but also internally just with me. I think for the first time, I’m really tackling some big thoughts about creating a life in which there is never a significant other in the picture, and right now, that doesn’t completely scare me. It still makes me sad, but the fear is gone. In all fairness, I’m not sure I’ve ever really admitted my fear of being single forever. There are so many moments in my life where I have loved being on my own, where I have had immense joy in only having to worry about myself and Ginger, in being able to make any decision I wanted to without anyone else’s thoughts or opinions weighing in. But, there has always been lingering fear. More often than not, I don’t care for being alone. I love sharing life with people. But, I think what this move has taught me most is that 1: I can do things on my own just fine and 2: I can easily make really good, strong friendships anywhere I go, so I will never truly be alone.

OK, I think I’ve rambled off into several tangents in this post, so I’m going to wrap it up. I’ll close with stating that TEDxDetroit is an event I will now go to every year with joy and excitement (and maybe one day, I’ll get to speak at it), and now I’m convinced that I need to travel to other places for other TED events as well! It was a day of major inspiration, and a heavy dose of creativity, joy, hope and connection that I needed very badly.

Thank you, TEDxDetroit organizers!

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