Tomorrow I’m one of the speakers at the Global Care Gathering in Ayrshire, Scotland. This international event, created by Who Cares Scotland, is for those who have experienced the care system and I’m amongst an incredible line up of inspirational speakers, sharing our stories in front of a global audience and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Maria is coming with me … not many street dogs from Brazil get to meet the head of a country!
On Saturday, I’ll be on stage full of energy and passion, sharing all the amazing things I’ve done around the world and what I’ve learned, even though I’d much rather pull the duvet over my head, eat chocolate and have a wee cry because my mood is low, I am unsure of myself in the world and I feel anxious.
You see I am a public speaker. And I love it so much. I truly do. But sometimes my mental health doesn’t match up with what I love to do. Many years ago my mental health dictated what I did or didn’t do in life. But now I have the power.
Last month, I was one of this years speakers at Velo Vixen’s Hub at the Cycle Show, NEC Birmingham. Even though I sat for hours at the laptop to prepare my talk in the lead-up, my brain just wouldn’t function. The show was heaving with inspirational and incredible speakers and I rocked on up to the stage having only managed 30 minutes of preparation … which I did during the talk before mine!
In these moments of my life, I become defiant against the odds and I shrug my shoulders and think sod it … I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway.
I’d rather go ahead and do the best I can and be crap than not do it at all.
Walking up on the stage, another rule I obey kicked in, which takes away my fear. Just be me. That’s all I have to do. Is just be me.
And know what … I absolutely smashed it!
Sure, it would have been nice to be prepared, but my mental health doesn’t always allow this. So what am I going to do? Not do it? I deserve to be there as much as anyone else. I’ve cycled 20 countries solo goddammit and it’s a friggen cycle show!
Tomorrow, speaking at the Global Care Gathering is a huge moment in my life. Only yesterday I broke my heart in therapy. I would give anything to have my family. I look around me and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be around people who have wanted you your whole life. Who have shared all the good and bad times and have zillions of memories of inconsequential moments.
Up until a couple of years ago I had kept it hidden from everyone that I had experienced foster care and that I had been homeless for years because I thought people would judge me negatively. How wrong was I! It’s been the complete opposite since I opened up to the world and stopped denying who I was and where I came from. And tomorrow I’ll be on stage talking about it in front of an audience who can identify with me, just as a few years ago whilst cycling the world, I identified with the street dogs which set me off on this journey of belonging and identity and self love.
So even though my mood is low and I’m tearful and I feel unsure in the world and anxious … am I going to smash it tomorrow?