Over the week­end, I had the plea­sure of attend­ing  TEDx­Cal­gary at the Glen­bow Museum and hear­ing some amaz­ing speak­ers deliver on the topic of “Break­ing Through: Explor­ing the fron­tiers of ideas and actions.” I also…was greatly hon­oured to be one of the speak­ers, and this was the biggest break­through for me.

Dog Ate My Homework

My Imag­i­nary Conspirator.

It took me two weeks to think through whether or not I could do this — to break through the safe, quiet soli­ti­tude of my cocoon-like stu­dio and step into the stage spot­light to share. I had visions of trip­ping down the stairs and land­ing face first as I walked in…throwing up on the first few rows of the audi­ence (that lit­er­ally would be a repeat per­for­mance for me). My insane left-brained mind cre­ated all sorts of “don’t do this!” sce­nar­ios, cre­at­ing fears and tons of rea­sons. I think at one point, I even texted my speaker coach to tell her that the dog ate my speech. (Sadly, she knew we didn’t have a dog.)

My biggest fear for the past cou­ple of months (okay…years), has been this odd form of stage­fright. Yes. It’s true. I suf­fer from stage­fright and am a die-hard, diag­nosed introvert!

I think that was my biggest per­sonal break­through was in con­quer­ing a very real fear of pub­lic speak­ing, bar­ing my soul and telling my story as me…in front of an audi­ence. Odd — because for such a long time, I lit­er­ally LIVED in the the­atre in my 20’s, lov­ing every oppor­tu­nity to por­tray inter­est­ing char­ac­ters in clas­sic sto­ries in front of hun­dreds of people.

It’s not usual that we accom­plish this “break­ing through” meta­mor­pho­sis on our own, but we DO tend to think we are alone in our fears. Not so. I’m ever-grateful to my fel­low speak­ers and my speaker coach, Donna Kennedy-Glans for the encour­age­ment and sup­port to try, and for shar­ing with me too, how ner­vous they all were too, about “get­ting it right” on one try. I’m thank­ful for so many of my friends and fam­ily who encour­aged me through this.

My obser­va­tion in the short-term for all of this is:

It is so much eas­ier to don the mask of a char­ac­ter, with a story that is writ­ten for you, which is not about you — per­son­ally.

The Comedy and Tragedy of Masking Your True Self

The Com­edy and Tragedy of Mask­ing Your True Self

Act­ing” dis­tances you from your­self (if you’re good at it) and you tell some­one else’s story through your own fil­ters & expe­ri­ence. This the­atri­cal art­form has become pro­lific in our day and age and is reflected by the masks we don in our jobs, and all the sep­a­rate sit­u­a­tions we might find our­selves every day.

We mod­ify our behav­iours to hide lit­tle bits of our gor­geous, breath-taking human selves.… out of fear.


“Fear, in my opin­ion, is just a mis­guided form of creativity.”

How might it be for all of us if we were able to all just “be” our­selves in every sit­u­a­tion? What might arise from this and for us? What might this inti­mate shar­ing of sto­ries reveal about each of us, in our frag­ile human state.

I learned so much over the week­end, not just from the rich con­tent, bril­liant ideas and brave folk who attended, spoke, vol­un­teered, orga­nized and tech-savvied the whole event, but from the act of openly shar­ing mean­ing­ful per­sonal sto­ries, despite nerves and all of the other dis­trac­tions that accom­pany fam­ily life.

When you con­quer that petty fear, show your true self authen­ti­cally, mag­i­cal things hap­pen. I feel so lucky to be able to watch my chil­dren model that every day for me.

I think this is the exper­i­ment I am in as a Full Time Human Being for the remain­der of my life, and I encour­age you to uncover the cre­ativ­ity inside of you which is masked by your fears.

Tell your own.….

Once Upon A Time

August 5th — Post­script note: If you would like to wit­ness first hand, my fear­ful moments, the TEDx­Cal­gary talk is now posted here: The Lan­guage of The Creator.

  • http://www.aydin.ca Aydin Odyak­maz

    Great write up!

    • http://www.janicetanton.com Jan­ice Tanton

      Thanks, Aydin. Enjoy!

  • http://www.calliopesmusing.com Kath­leen

    I loved your talk, and was so delighted to be able to see it in person.

    I didn’t think you were ner­vous at all, espe­cially given your open­ing line! :-) Con­grat­u­la­tions on a per­sonal achieve­ment and on a really great and inspir­ing talk as well. You and Judge Reilly were my favourite speak­ers on Saturday.


    • http://www.janicetanton.com Jan­ice Tanton

      Thank you, Kath­leen. In fact, I am very ner­vous when it comes to things like this. I think the energy in the room, and the close­ness of the folks that were there really helped me. Frank’s talk was rather inter­est­ing, so the chick­ens really played into “me”.

      I’m glad you were inspired. I hope you con­tinue to be so! Inspi­ra­tion every day moves us for­ward in direc­tions we don’t expect.…what bet­ter place to con­quer fear!

  • Pingback: What’s it like to give a TEDx talk? Speakers tell their stories | Krantenkoppen Tech

  • Pingback: Fear and Acceptance - What It's Like To Give A TEDx talk | Janice Tanton :: Full Time Human Being

  • Pingback: 8 Seconds - News Update from TEDxCalgary Features Janice Tanton | Janice Tanton :: Full Time Human Being

  • Kim Bruce

    When you are pas­sion­ate about some­thing it pro­vides you the energy, the con­vic­tion and the con­fi­dence to carry on. You have pas­sion Jan­ice, it comes through in your talk.

    • http://www.janicetantonblog.com/ Jan­ice Tanton

      Thanks Kim! :) Pub­lic speak­ing scares me.…but I’m warm­ing up to it. ;)