I have become frustrated often trying to figure out how to get invitations to speak at schools and community organizations. Yet, I cannot blame groups I reach out to. Until they have heard me speak and understand the message I deliver, I can only imagine their mistrust when someone writes and says, “Hey, I have a whole lot of brain damage. Want me to come and speak to your group about the amazing lessons I can teach?” Okay, I do say it much more eloquently than that. I admit, regardless of how wrong I would be, I, too, would doubt a person with significant brain damage could deliver a coherent message applicable to a group I was responsible for leading. Therefore, how do I get more invites? What do I do to reach more people? How do I share the wisdom I have gained from life?
Probably the most frustrating –yet telling- thing for me is the response I receive once I have spoken to any organization. Every speech I have finished has ended with the leader inviting me back and promising to tell other people about my eagerness to educate groups on neurological conditions. Teachers, leaders, and community organizers all felt I impacted the lives of those who heard my message.
I have been told I need a platform -to narrow down- to a specific lesson I teach. In other words, I need to focus on only one cause. This will draw in a prime group of supporters. It will be easier for people to grasp the message I can share. While I understand the theory behind this statement, I also find it frustrating. All of my experiences link together. If it had not been for developing epilepsy while in middle school, I would not have had brain surgery. No brain surgery would have meant no stroke. If I had not had a stroke, I would not be the person I am today.
Maybe I am the “jack of all trades and master of none.” Yet, the number of people I have touched, and the countless others I will, makes me fear narrowing down my focus to a singular topic would leave out those who need to hear this message. I am concerned this would limit the variety of audiences who could learn from my experiences and realize they are not alone. It is a big world out there with a lot of different people and needs. The world is far too big for me to find a single platform.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman