Can you tell which one is me?

On March 24, 2018 I’ll get the chance to cross off something that’s been on my bucket list for years: Speak at TEDxBirmingham.

I’ve known since this summer that I would be taking to the TEDx stage next spring, but I had to keep this on the hush until all the speakers were officially announced today on the TEDxBirmingham website. You can see the complete list here.

Side note: My curls are living their best life in my official TEDxBirmingham headshot.

The theme for TEDxBirmingham 2018 is Before and After. As the site says, “There are moments that mark your life, moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same. And time is divided into two parts, before this and after this.”

The TEDxBirmingham organizers want you to think about who you are now, before experiencing this event, and they want you to anticipate who you will be after. I’m wondering the same thing about myself. Who am I now, before going through this process of crafting a TED Talk and who will I be after I have been on the TEDx stage?

Because of the Before x After theme, baby pictures of all the speakers were posted before the official announcement was made. And because I apparently still look the same as I did when I was 3, some of my friends had already figured out I was going to be a speaker.

To go along with the Before x After theme, we were asked to share what we wanted to be when we grew up. Honestly, it was hard to narrow this down to one thing. When I was younger what I wanted to be when I grew up changed every week — lawyer, astronaut, engineer. I once wanted to be an archeologist but only because I liked the sound of the word (perhaps a hint that I would become a writer). The aspiration that stuck the longest (before teacher and writer stuck for good) was my goal of being the first female president of the United States. But through teaching and writing, I’ve found another way to change the world and that will be the focus of my talk.

If you think giving a TED Talk is as simple as writing a 10-minute speech and practicing it a couple times, think again. I’ve already had to submit the first draft of my talk, which will go through multiple revisions, and before I present my talk to the TEDxBirmingham audience I will have to present it to focus groups.

Through my blog and social media platforms, I’d like to take you with me on this journey and I hope you’ll be in the audience on the big day. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 1 and can be purchased here.