This month I am joining Rogaine “Defy Your DNA” campaign to share my story of how I overcame the fear and self doubt that prevented me from finding my confidence and accepting my true self. We all face challenges in life whether it’s internal or a physical one. You can either struggle from something like self doubt or deal with physical things like thinning hair. At the end of the day it’s a personal and an emotional battle we face. Whether that is dealing with changes or battling our own natures–our hardwired tendencies to run away. I want to be better than my doubts and I don’t want to lose out on a better me.
One of the reasons why I started making videos on Youtube was to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. I remember how shy and scared I was to talk to people. I’ve always wanted to feel like the confident women I have watched on TV but I didn’t know how to. I was that quiet girl standing awkwardly at gatherings and social events. I was that person that always made excuses to not go out where there are lots of people in a room. One day, I had enough with hiding. I thought, if I put myself out there, be uncomfortable then one day I will be able to defy my limiting beiefs – and just do me. Find the strong fearless woman I strive to be.
Youtube definitely helped me get out of my shell, but I still knew I had a long path ahead of me. As I picked up on popularity with my channel, I was invited to speak on a few stages in front of real people. A live audience! It was another challenge, but one I felt like I still haven’t overcame. With every new opportunity to speak, I felt more anxious and there was the feeling of butterflies in my stomach and my palms got sweaty. I never enjoyed the anticipation of public speaking, and eventually let go of the idea that I can someday be a good speaker and potentially make a difference with my words on stage. That time I lost a battle, and did myself the injustice of being held back by doubts.
A couple of years passed and I haven’t been invited to any stage. It felt great for me, because there was no live speaking engagements to worry about! Until this year came. I started receiving one invitation after another to speak on stage about my story as a youtube creator. Speaking on stage meant I had to speak in front of a live audience again. Even though I wanted to say “NO” I promised myself to never turn down an opportunity for growth, because I have to outgrow the things that hold me back.
So I asked people who I knew were great speakers – how are they so good at public speaking? Every time they said “practice, practice, practice!” and so I tried, yet something didn’t align with me. There was this vague thing holding me back, something I couldn’t quite grasp, and I needed to find out what it was. I reached out to a public speaking coach, scheduled my first appointment and during the session, my coach said one thing that stood out to me… “Ann, your weakness is your strength. Be you and improvise.” Improvise. I am greatest at being me, and here I was fighting that.
I had never resonated with anything rehearsed, using speaking techniques and going by a script took away what made me, me. All this time, I hid myself away for so long. I didn’t blend in or fit into any program, and I saw that as a problem. Yet what makes me different, also makes me stand out. I finally understand it and can finally embrace who I am and be better for it. I am no longer afraid of being different. Because of that realization and acceptance of myself, I gained strength and the confidence to speak as myself and not a person practicing to be me.
This past September, I stepped back on stage in front of a live audience of 1000 business professionals, and connected for the first time. In the past, everything would feel like a blur out there, but this time on stage was different. I embraced who I am, and that exuded from my message. Not only did I connect to my audience, but they also connected with me.
(Cole Hatter on left and me on right)
We all have a different solution to how we can Defy our DNA. Thinning hair is in everyone’s DNA but even that can be controlled by early action. You can make a difference. Just like with the challenges and choices we make everyday in life. What is your challenge? How do you Defy your DNA?