I was talking with a friend one day, and he said, “Katie, you should give a TED talk.”
So I laughed because that’s how you’re supposed to reply to outrageous statements.
“No, seriously, Katie. You should talk to people.”
And I still wasn’t sure if he was actually being serious, so I laughed a little softer and almost wrecked trying to see his face in the dark.
He was serious.
“I don’t have anything to say. Besides, I’m just a girl.”
“What you’ve just said to me – say that. And you’re not just a girl.”
“Just promise me you’ll at least look and see what it takes.”
That was a few weeks ago. I forgot about it until tonight.
Tonight, I found myself needing a dose of my own medicine, so after I gave myself a small, ineffective pep talk, I got on TED.com to see what it took. Because a promise is, after all, a promise.
I don’t think I’ll ever give a TED talk.
I just found myself on the “speakers” page, and I have discovered that I am not the kind of person who gives a TED talk.
You speak if you’re an inventor, an engineer, a biologist, a composer, a wild sex biologist, a poet, a physicist, an artist, an entrepreneur, a comedian, a journal-er, a researcher, an innovator, the prime minister, a gardener, a space activist, an author, or the co-founder of Google.
I am not a human beat-boxer, a photographer, an explorer, a particle physicist, a revolutionary, a physiotherapist, a musician, a politician, a director, a CEO, a model, a chef, a philosopher, a cartoonist, an activist, a parent, a neuroscientist, a penguin expert, or anything else.
I’m a girl.
I looked through all 51 pages of their list of speakers, and I didn’t see a single person that was only a girl.
I did see someone who was a dad and someone else who was a nose and quite a lot of people who do things with bees. I deeply appreciate them. But none of these brilliant people were something I am.
Sure, I’m smart. I could be an expert in something crazy (Except being a dad. That one’s not biologically possible for me.), but I’m not because that’s not who I am. I will never be so deep in the sciences or liberal arts that I could stand in a room of my peers and expect them to pay attention to and learn something from my opinion.
I have a huge amount of respect for all the people who have given TED talks. Some of them are people I really look up to.
But that’s part of my problem.
I really look up to some of these people. They all have these fantastic titles and have done wonderful things, but I will never be a person like that.
So, I need to know that it’s okay to be a girl.
I need to know that I don’t have to be an expert in economics or anything else to be worthy of my place in the world.
I need to know that it’s okay to simply be ordinary.
I don’t want to need to be the person that stands out or the one who saves the world or the one everyone knows or the one everyone wants to emulate.
It has to be okay that I will never influence nations and heads of states.
I need to know that I am still valuable without leading armies or peace rallies, without being loved or hated by multitudes, without people screaming my name, and without leaving a large mark on the world.
I need to know that it’s okay to just be me – an ordinary girl.
And I know a few other people who need to know that as well.
So, darling, if you’ve made it through my late-night ramblings to this point, I want to you know that you’re perfectly fine as a girl. Or a boy.
Whatever you are.
You don’t have to be something you’re not as long as you are unapologetically, irreversibly, uncontrollably you.
Do you, my love. You’ll be fabulous.
You can do extraordinary things if you want to, but you still mean so much to the world if you’re simply, ordinarily you.