I can't recall the first time I was asked to give a lecture. Surely I've given hundreds at this point; to undergrads, graduate students, medical students, colleagues. I've even taught Interfaith religious education to kindergarteners (a favorite group but quite possibly the hardest). I do know that every time I've stepped in front of students or sat down at a conference table with them, my entire being lights up. It's the feeling of knowing that I am in the exact place where I need to be. It's the feeling of doing inspired work.
Being the over-preparer I am, I take tons of time developing the curriculum, getting the Powerpoint slides exactly the way I want them. I get in front of the class with my carefully laid plan and five minutes into it, I realize I'm so enraptured with the students sitting in front of me that I still haven't moved past my intro slide. No matter - I've learned that time and space cease to exist when I am in the teaching zone. It's something about the connection between teacher and student, that these people have put their trust in me to give them knowledge, to tell them something that might be useful, that might resonate. Something that might change the way they look at the world or approach their work.
Something similar happens when I am in the groove of writing. The world slips away, my mind quiets down, and my fingers glide easily over this keyboard. It's harder for me to enter into writing bliss compared to teaching bliss, but the pure sense of feeling that I am doing something worthwhile and meaningful is similar.
Recently, an opportunity arose to combine these two loves of mine. To teach personal storytelling. Am I qualified to teach students how to write their story? Has my writing been published? Well, I've certainly published a lot of scientific papers. My list of personal essays that have been published is much shorter and much less impressive. Could I put off teaching a writing course until I had more essays published and experience as an entrepreneur under my belt? Sure. But I'm ready for the challenge now.
I've honed the skills of managing a classroom. I've honed the skills of planning a curriculum. I have hundreds of hours of experience actually teaching in front of students. Most importantly, teaching and writing are my passions. They inspire me, which means I show up to my class full of energy which in turn inspires and energizes my students.
What are you ready to do that you have not yet stepped into? Maybe it's learning photography or reading your poem at an open mic night or setting boundaries to free up 15 minutes of your day to sit in quiet. Maybe it's writing your own story. You don't need an MFA or scheduled writing time on your calendar for the next month. I promise. I'm giving you permission. Put a sticky note in your pocket and write one sentence today. Talk into your voice memo on your phone as you are driving home tonight. I'm giving you permission to start. I'm also inviting you to take my class starting Sept 20th. Absolutely no writing experience necessary. If you've ever said to yourself I'd like to tell my story (and you live in the vicinity of Vienna, VA) this class is for you. Come join me.