Put Your Name in the Hat

The terrifying and exhilarating ride of showing up for ourselves and others.

Put Your Name in the Hat

A few weeks ago, I went to the Moth - a live storytelling event - in San Francisco.

It was terrifying. And it was beautiful.

I went with three people - two of whom I’d never met in person. We’ve been in an online story community for a few years and this was the first time we were getting together in person to tell our stories. The idea started small - one person suggested it, another said it would be fun to meet up, and then all of a sudden we were all preparing stories of our own. We met online in the weeks leading up to the Moth honing our stories together and re-committing to telling them on stage if we got chosen. 

On the day of, I was full of confidence and nerves and excitement and fear. Upon arriving with my newly met friends, I boldly filled out the form and threw my name into the hat (in actuality, a bag) before I could change my mind.

But as soon as the event started, I was terrified. Terrified every 7 minutes I’d get called up to tell my story. Each time the emcee picked a name out of the bag, I'd grab the hands of my storytelling friends and we'd hold tight until she read the name out loud. We all exhaled loudly when our names weren't read. For two hours, I felt like I was on a roller coaster - and I hate roller coasters. 

In the end, I wasn’t chosen. For all kinds of reasons, I was relieved.

But I realized as I walked to my car, after saying goodbye to my group, that the point wasn’t getting onto the stage. The point was in developing, growing, stretching.

Throwing my name in forced me to show up.

To myself.

To my stories, to my ideas.

I would never have taken that leap without being pushed. And I wouldn’t have learned what I did - about myself, about what my stories are for - had I not leapt.

But more importantly - and most interestingly - throwing my name in the hat forced me to show up to others:

To the generous people in my story telling group.

To the brave people on the stage sharing their stories.

To the enthusiastic people in the audience cheering us all on.

I was bowled over by the generosity, the camaraderie, the support and love in that room - and among my storytelling community leading up to that event. And I was stunned by, and deeply grateful for, what became possible - for me, for all of us - because of it.

Turns out, showing up is both terrifying and beautiful. That's what makes it so powerful.

Story buddies: Sabah, April, Michael and I sharing a moment on stage.

PS. Here's the story I prepared.