Towards the end of 2012, I was asked to come back home to Trinidad, to give a talk at TEDxPortOfSpain. I had to deliver a 15 to 18 minute speech on courage. And it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. It was one of the most liberating experiences I’ve ever had. This is me, immediately after giving my speech. 12.12.12. A day that shall live in Afrobella history.

Afrobella TED talk

What was so terrifying to me about being part of TEDx? Even though I do all kinds of appearances and public speaking gigs at this point, this was my first time going home to do such a thing. The first time that my parents and siblings would be in the audience, looking up at me on stage. The first time I was going to have to write a speech and straight up remember it, without a teleprompter or print out to guide me. The first time I was going to look out at an audience and see old classmates and teachers and former coworkers and people who have known me since I was 5 years old. It was a very surreal, This Is Your Life kind of experience.

I was incredibly nervous before the speech and I basically shut down and rehearsed as much as possible beforehand. TEDxPortOfSpain’s founder Keita Demming coached me through it on the phone and in person, when we both went back to Trinidad.

“I think courage should come with a warning label. “May make you sweaty and nauseous, may lead to stomach pains, sleepless nights and heart palpitations.” The actual act of being courageous doesn’t feel good when you’re gearing up for it. But being courageous leads to opportunity – and in my experience, it leads to more opportunities to be courageous.”

That’s how my TED talk begins, or at least how it began on paper. In person, the speech you memorized may not be the speech you give. But that’s fine. Because it’s your story. Your words. Trust yourself. All will be well.

Courage doesn’t mean you don’t feel fear. To me it means that you just understand it better. You can analyze the fear. You should know what it is and where it is coming from. It helps you to face it.”

Getting through the TED experience helped me to understand my fear, and face it. My fear of public speaking comes from my fear of rejection and failure. I was afraid to go up there and bare my soul. I was afraid I wouldn’t live up to the TED credo of sharing an idea worth spreading. I was still very much in disbelief that I got chosen to do something so prestigious.

The feedback I’ve gotten has been nothing short of overwhelming. I’ve heard from so many people who silenced my fears, and said my speech touched their hearts, inspired them, and brought tears to their eyes. That is an amazing feeling.

When I was first asked to do this, to give a TED talk, I almost said no. My first thoughts were of doubt. My first thoughts were “I can’t.” And then “why me?” And I have come to realize that I can. I always could. And why NOT me? Maybe the message you aren’t sure you’re brave enough to share, is the one someone needs to hear.

I hope you like my speech. I hope to publish it online so everyone can read it, cause the written version is a bit more polished than what you see above.

Click here to visit the official TEDxTalks site, and click here to watch on YouTube – I’d sincerely appreciate your comments and likes there!


Darlene says:
February 1, 2013, 3:25 pm
Very proud of you! The trajectory of your career is inspiring. Was looking forward to the post and am looking forward to watching the video this weekend. Take care, Patrice! You rock!
Valerie R. says:
February 1, 2013, 11:15 pm
BRAVO! You inspire me and so many others!
Eat.Style.Play says:
February 2, 2013, 10:28 am
Go girl! So proud of you as a fellow blogger, woman, trini, and everything else in between you are an inspiration!
Akosua says:
February 2, 2013, 12:49 pm
Awesome!! Keep doing all of your good stuff!!
Pam R says:
February 2, 2013, 4:10 pm
That was a wonderful talk. You have inspired me!!
Claresa says:
February 2, 2013, 6:28 pm
I really loved your TEDx talk! I love your blog, but I hadn't seen this post until today when my mother-in-law, who's also Trinidadian, shared it with me. Your story is so inspirational! Being a writer and a woman who struggles with self image from time to time...I personally thank you for doing what you do!
Cosmolude says:
February 2, 2013, 7:29 pm
Loved the speech, it was very inspiring.
Glenyse says:
February 2, 2013, 7:39 pm
Bella, I loved your TedX chat! You are sooo right, we have to make our own runway! (And working Sofistafunk!) That necklace is gorgeous, can you tell me where I can get one!
Glenyse says:
February 2, 2013, 7:40 pm
Bella, I loved your TedX chat! You are sooo right, we have to make our own runway! (And working Sofistafunk!) That necklace is gorgeous, can you tell me where I can get one?
Jen Pebbles says:
February 3, 2013, 11:42 pm
Perfect! I loved everything about your speech. I will cheer you on in living your life of intention!!
Reesa says:
February 4, 2013, 11:20 am
Wow! Thank you so much for this. There was so much about your talk that resonated with me and reminded of my journey and struggles with my own self image. I can't thank you enough for sharing this and opening up about your life and struggles. You've definitely reached at least one person (me) with your talk....It was truly chicken soup for my soul!
pets says:
February 4, 2013, 12:57 pm
I am proud to be your sister, friend, confidante. I loved seeing you deliver it in person and have played it at least 2x since it was posted. The day was a great one not only for you But for TEDxPOS and all the others who spoke, attended, worked on making the event happen. I have sent it to many and the response has only been positive. Thanks for having the courage to do this!
NaturallyHairObsessed says:
February 4, 2013, 1:34 pm
You are a DOLL! meaning your inner sweetheart shines through. That was a great speech and it really spoke to me. Congratulations.
Mak says:
February 4, 2013, 3:41 pm
Great speech!!!!! Congratulations on all of your acheievements
Sabbio says:
February 5, 2013, 11:41 pm
Four years I've known you and your blog and wow, what a step! And yes, why not you in TED? Of course you deserved to be there and thanks for this incredible sharing you offer us... What a precious gift!!! Congrats dear, lots of bravos from France!!!