Heather’s blog: YACCtivist (always) in training

April 15, 2014

IMG_1721I gave my first presentation in front of 66 grade seven and eight students at Fairhaven School in Saskatoon last week. It’s taken me a week to write about it, because it has taken me a week to really absorb and understand the impact this had not just on the students, but even more on myself.

For the two weeks leading up to my presentation I struggled with an extreme amount of self-doubt. I’ve been working on my presentation since I received my training to be a YACCtivist back in November–writing my story, choosing pictures to go along with it for the PowerPoint, and developing my key message. You would think that nearly six months of preparation would make me more than ready; after all, this is my story, nobody knows it better than me.

Knowing that, and laying all of this groundwork still didn’t seem to put my mind at ease. I was anxious that I would forget a major component of my story that would lead into my key message. Mostly I was fearful that all the moments I was about to share from my life that had a huge impact on me, would have absolutely no effect on anyone else. What am I doing this for?

It didn’t take long after I started speaking to answer that question. I realized that we were all there in pursuit of the same outcome. Connection.

It was connection that I was searching for three years ago when I joined YACC, and it was an amazing feeling being able to give that back to someone else. The students were engaged, they asked questions, some of them hugged me, and when it when it was done we wanted to continue the conversation. My actions weren’t completely selfless though; I probably got more out of this than anybody else.

The message I left with the students was, “Within life and loss there is always the opportunity for movement, and to create new direction.” I shared with them how many events in my life, and my cancer diagnosis sent me on some unexpected paths that were often difficult to navigate, but how I finally feel like I am exactly where I am meant to be despite all that.

What has caught me off guard is that since sharing my story with the students, I have again found myself on a yet another path of discovery. I felt like going into this first presentation I had my journey all figured out. I’ve lived it, I’ve learned from it, and now I was sharing it. Where I have been surprised is that I have realized that this part of my journey is really only just beginning–I’m not there yet. I am only just starting to learn my voice and find my direction, and at this point there are so many possibilities of where this next step may take me.

“We may have moments in life that send us down different paths, but as long as we are living, our stories are evolving and changing.” – Heather Bonynge

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