We all have a voice. This statement may sound silly or presumptuous. But beyond any type of judgment, we all have our own say regarding diverse matters. We feel, and we do so differently according to the various things that surround us. So maybe it’s not about having a voice, but rather on finding the courage to uncover our own and set it free. The mere fact that we are living creatures entitles us to express our thoughts and emotions. It’s as simple as that. ‘Creativity and big thinking start with a curious mind, a willingness to be wrong and a desire to share and debate the big issues that we all face as a community’, says Jon Yeo, curator and licensee of TEDxMelbourne. Yet to get there, we first have to overcome the struggle that we may have within ourselves, when voices of criticism whisper in our ears saying that we are not worth it. Oh, but we are.
At TEDxMelbourne, we’re giving you the chance to explore that inner voice and share it with your community at our third annual Open Mic Night, which will be held on March 27th at The Toff in Town. If you’ve ever felt a tickle of wonder about how it would feel to talk in front of an audience about something you are passionate about or if you’re already planning your opening line, do not hesitate any longer and apply here.
So, what do we want to say? This may be tricky and the fear of a blank page can paralyse us. But there are many paths we can undertake in order to overcome this obstacle. We can write about who we are, our journey, or the things we love. Or, we can write about what we passionately hate. Yes, you read that correctly. Last year, Josh Brnjac, a then sixteen year old and creative entrepreneur, now CEO of two companies, participated in Open Mic Night. He told his story about how he was on the brink of suicide when he was twelve. In the midst of depression, he couldn’t find a space for love. Even though, paradoxically, it sprouted from reflecting on what he hated the most: the lack of support for vulnerable kids. This hate evolved into conviction: ‘finding a passion was not enough for me. I needed to find something in myself (first) and in the world (second) that I did not want to turn into and that I did not want the world around me to turn into’, he says. This was his own personal way of finding his life’s purpose; why not share it when it can help others too?
The traces of the decisions we’ve made, our quirks, what we want to change in the world. They’re all potential drivers of expression because in the end, it’s not originality that we have to care about, but authenticity. We don’t create from scratch; on the contrary, we build upon what others have already made. Austin Kleon, author of the book Steal Like an Artist, encourages us to study someone who we admire and once we are done, to research people that were praised by the person we looked up in the first place. Yeo agrees with this technique; he’s part of a never ending process where information is constantly being exchanged: ‘I speak to dozens of people a week about where they get their information so I have a big list of recommended books and related resources.’
When we explore, we realise what makes us tick and what doesn’t. In other words, we deepen our own personal search. ‘It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to,’ said Jean-Luc Godard, the filmmaker. We have to make room to allow our creative selves to flourish; ‘we all have a space, an area, a place of thought (whether through a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual place) that inspires us’, Brnjac said. When writing his speech, he knew that in his case it was between 1 and 3 am, so he stayed awake and went with it. His talk is evidence of the positive results of trusting our creative impulse.
We have talked about that judgmental, dark voice that can attempt to cover our mouths or dry up our pens. But how can we stop it? In her bestseller book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg challenges us to write, write and write. She admits that by doing so, we will peel off our fears and we’ll finally connect with what we really want to say. In this case, finding our voice is about putting our entire body into it and trusting the experience; we may encounter overwhelming, deep feelings but liberating them could potentially make us feel relieved. If, for instance, we write on a daily basis, we will see that our notebook is full of emotions – anger, maybe jealousy, narcissism, happiness, everything! – but in the end, they are momentary; our creations are part of who we are but they are not a permanent reflection because we evolve. Goldberg also asks us to distinguish and silence the editor’s voice because it will want to censor us. And if we can’t, she advises us to write down what this voice may say just to see how ‘silly’ and shallow those negative comments are. When Brnjac would write in the early hours of the morning, he would trust in the movement of this pen, allowing everything to come out as it was; raw, powerful, full of truth, solely for himself. At more ‘normal hours’, he would let his subconscious process it, structuring and preparing it for the TEDxMelbourne audience. Once we can trust our voice and have mastered the ability to express whatever we may feel, we will be able to tell our own story with honesty.
But it doesn’t end there; sharing our message is also fundamental. If we have already assumed that our creations lie upon existing content, we have to do our contribution too. Brnjac chose to participate in Open Mic Night last year because it was time, for his own sake, to ‘take that skeleton out of the closet’. Is there anything more courageous than exposing our vulnerability? That’s the moment when we have removed all of our layers, reaching the core.
Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in this year’s Open Mic Night, an experience that gives us the chance to simply be braver. For all of those that would like to apply, Brnjac advises the following: ‘decide an idea that is close to your heart and by sharing, it will show (even a little bit) your vulnerable side, and also an idea that you feel will add to the betterment of humanity.’ Do we need to say more?
+ JON YEO’S ARTISTIC INFLUENCES
Want to broaden your search on A.I., the human mind and technology? Get inspired with Jon’s top picks from around the web!
Books (the ones he read last year – otherwise the list would be too long!)
See more here
Hero image: Josh Brnjac speaking at TEDxMelbourne in 2018. Photo credit: Darrell Pearce Photography www.darrellpearce.com.au