McKenna Sharrer is from Pennsylvania. She is currently a student at Full Sail University who is working towards her bachelors degree in Creative Writing. She has no previous publications.
Trying to Change
Having a room full of people listen to your every word sounds like it would be wonderful; I thought so, too. It used to be fun and exciting when I first started my career as a motivational speaker. I thought I would be able to make a difference in people’s lives, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s been ten years of me speaking to hundreds of people at a time. Now, I’ve been reduced to speaking at middle and high schools. I’ve been beginning to think ten years is enough time for trying to help people. Today’s high school speech was no different.
“Welcome everyone, I’m so excited to be able to talk to you all. Before I start, I would love to tell you a little about myself. My name is Sherry and I have been doing public speaking for many years now. I’ve learned so many lessons in my lifetime and I feel it’s helpful to share them with you.” I looked around the auditorium full of students to find maybe ten percent of them looking at me. I continue anyway.
“Now who in this room has had an experience so intense that it changed who they were?” Nothing. No response.
“I know I have. I can remember almost fifteen years ago when I was at my college graduation. I remember that day perfectly. The sun was shining, almost blinding, as I walked across a wooden stage, just like this one, to receive my degree in psychology.” I saw someone throw a crumpled-up piece of paper which landed just in front of the stage I was standing on. I hesitated, but continued.
“My father died that day. It happened so fast. Just like that, one of the happiest days of my life turned miserable.” I heard the faint sound of someone popping their gum.
“I didn’t go outside for weeks after that. I felt as though everything I had accomplished was for nothing. Nothing mattered to me after that day.” All was quiet in the audience except for the occasional snicker or laugh. I tried to hold it together.
“After months of wallowing in my sorrows and feeling so hopeless, I decided I needed to change. I realized that feeling sorry for myself wasn’t getting me anywhere. I started going out and having fun again because I knew that was what my dad would have wanted.” A brown-haired boy with the brightest and whitest shirt I’ve ever seen spoke. “Why don’t you come have a good time with me, Sherry?” he said. I froze as the rest of the students laughed. My heart felt like it had been ripped in half. I thought to myself, why are you even doing this. You can’t help anyone. You can hardly even help yourself.
“Anyway, I want you all to take one thing away from what I’ve said. If your life isn’t taking you where you want to be, change it.” More laughs.
“I hope you all have a great rest of your day. Thank you all for listening.” I raced off the stage and threw my notes to the ground. I was done with motivational speaking; I could not handle the people making me feel like a joke. I grabbed my water bottle and headed for the door when I heard someone say my name. I turned around to see a shorter girl whose hair covered more than half of her face standing, looking at me.
“I’m sorry to bother you. Do you have time to talk?” she said.
“It’s no bother at all,” I said.
“I just wanted to say thank you.” Her hands intertwined with a lock of her wavy hair.
“Thank me? For what?”
“For the past few years I’ve been dealing with things that I’d rather not talk about. I’ve been depressed and my hope has slowly been draining. I’ve been listening to your speeches recently and they’ve helped me more than anything else ever has. Thank you.”
I looked at her eyes which filled with tears more and more with every second that past. You could see the sadness in her face. I wanted to give her the biggest hug and tell her everything would be okay.
“I am so sorry you’re having a tough time. I hope everything works out. Like I say, even if you can’t change the situation, you can always change your attitude towards it,” I said.
She smiled at me before walking away.
I made my way backstage, crouched down, and picked up the papers I had dropped.