HAHAHAHAAHAHA the randomness that is my life will never cease to amaze me. For reals, man - how does someone circumvent the entire collegiate experience and go straight to teaching. Amazeballs on every level of amazing.
Here's the song that goes with the post, it's a pretty obvious choice ...
So, back in the spring a friend of mine had asked me to speak at a conference he was having in Orange County. I don't do the whole speaker thing, nor am I interested in doing it - but he needed some help at the last minute, so I was in.
It was my first time speaking in front of people, and I was SUPPPEERRR nervous, but as I got off stage, this woman approached me saying she was a professor for Cal State Fullerton and would LOVE it if I came to speak to her classes as a Professor for the Day.
I said great, gave her my card, and kind of put it out of my mind.
Flash forward to a few weeks back, she actually hit me up and asked if I was in the area. I was all, dude! amazing! I am!
She then set the date for the 7th, and before I knew it ... the day was here.
Since the classes weren't open to the public, I asked my buddy @megcorbs if she could come down and help me record the lectures so I can put it up on the YouTube ... she was game, and boom! There we be. Cue Facebook places checkin:
Again, I am not not not a public speaker, nor does it interest me in the LEAST. For reals, man - I'm still writing my story, I'm still building the new media production company ... however, I do have a soft spot for empowering youths and (especially) females with technology. I lead an alternative lifestyle and sharing that with a bunch of college kids was definitely appealing to me.
So, Meg and I get there around 9:30, first lecture was at 10, and looky looky what I got before I walked into class ...
OH. EM. GEE.
Yep, that's right - a badge with my name on it. SUUUHHHH WEEEETTT!!
I am totes getting a frame for this thing!!
I then walked into the class, and holllllllyyyyy crap was I scared.
I'm an extroverted introvert. Yes, I talk to LOADS of people all day every day, but I do it from behind my computer. Now I have to stand up here in front of 50 people and talk for an hour, by myself ... EEECKKK!!
Eminem's Lose Yourself played over and over in my head. "Here I go is my shot feet fail me not, this may be the only opportunity I got."
Right now, I am in a place of uncomfort - but like with anything that makes you uncomfortable if you face it head on you will not only learn from it, but grow from it. I am learning from these students as much as they are learning from me.
Big girl pants time. Put on the big girl pants, Jen Friel.
My hands won't stop shaking. It takes me a moment, but I then place my pen drive into the USB and selected my presentation - "A Nerd's Guide to Being Unapologetically Awesome."
The projector warms up as the professor introduces me.
Breathe Friel, breathe. Once in a lifetime opportunity - own this shit!!
I psych myself up, hear the students clap - and then get in the zone. I hit the space bar on the computer bringing up the first slide.
Words then start coming out of my mouth ... you're doing it Friel, holy shit! You're actually teaching a class at a college university. Be cool, be cool.
I'm talking a bit faster than normal, but the passion is there. This is my story, this is my life, and they're here to hear it. Be real, and speak the truth - it will always set you free.
I keep hitting the space bar going from slide to slide with ease.
I stare out at the faces ... the students are literally in shock.
A few start cheering at some of the slides, but mostly I see jaws open.
I could see the thought bubbles over their heads - is this chick for REAL?
Yes, in fact - last name Friel ... aka For Real.
I make it through the entire presentation, the students cheer.
Any questions, asks the professor?
One student rises from the back - You. Are. Awesome.
I laugh, saying thanks man!!!
I give the students my contact info, asking them to reach out. Class is then dismissed.
I take a deep breath. Wow, I did it, I thought. I just walked to a place I was uncomfortable to and made uncomfort my bitch. FUCK YES!!!
A few students approach me after class. They tell me about their projects, and passions - I'm excited asking them to email me.
I then exchanged high 5's and hugs. The professor approaches me, ready for the next class?
I laugh - oh yes. Round two, where you at?
We then switch rooms - to an even larger class, and I am introduced again.
This will be easier, I thought. I did it the first time and didn't die from being so scared, so I can totally do it this time.
I ask Meg if she can set up the camera - I'm ready, I say with a confident smile.
I begin the lecture ... the words flow even more freely out of my mouth, and my speed is slowed down.
I elaborate a bit more on each slide, and am now becoming more and more comfortable in my skin and more and more comfortable with each pair of eyeballs on me.
You're doing it, Friel. You're doing it!
The students smile, and nod their heads - every. single. one. paying attention.
This is so fucking cool.
I then get to the last slide and thank the students for their time explaining to them that this was a big life moment for me having never gone to college myself.
You're a step ahead of me, I say. I never got to have this experience.
One student stands up while clapping.
Amazing, I think - thank you.
I continue to explain to the students how excited I am for them. This is the GREATEST time to be alive, and we're a VERY special generation. We were the ones that blew into nintendo cartridges, knew the sound of dial up, the previous generations are looking at US to make the moves ... it's our job to step up to the plate and share our passions.
They cheer again.
I thank them for their time as class is dismissed.
All of the students were then invited across the street to the Cantina Lounge for lunch.
I gather my things, Meg helps me with the camera - and we walk across the street.
My body still feeling the rush from speaking, but also intensely craving my hoodie and headphones. We secure our table at the restaurant, and students are already coming up to me asking for advice, and help.
But how do I find my passion, one student asked.
I can't tell you that, I say. And no one else can! That was my mistake for 24 years - I kept searching for other people to tell me what to do, or what I should be doing with my life versus what I genuinely wanted to do. I had ZERO idea when I first started my website that I would be so passionate about it. In that moment of distraught and despair two years ago - it was just the only thing that felt good. It really was that easy, posting on a website just FELT really good! So, I kept doing it and kept doing it - eventually getting better with each post, and eventually finding my own voice. This was NOT an overnight process, I explained and it was NOT presented to me on a silver platter. The biggest decision of my life did not feel like a big decision at the time. I just had nothing else to lose, so I didn't give up.
He nods his head in understanding.
Can I get a hug, he asks?
I laugh - ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY!!!
More students approach ... again, asking the same thing.
I was thrown at how many times I kept getting that question. Student after student asking the same thing how do you find your passion?
This is heavy, I thought. These kids are paying to get a degree and have no idea what they're even going to do with it. Albeit, EVERY SINGLE EXPERIENCE you can ever have in life will allow you to grow in some capacity. These kids are learning discipline, social skills - etc. but I couldn't help but be shocked at how many just genuinely wanted the answer on how to find their passion.
I reiterated that I couldn't tell them how to find their passion. I can only show you what worked for me, and by throwing a TON of shit against the wall, I was able to find things that interested me and explored and played until it actually turned into a business. Again, I didn't know what I was doing when I started this all - it just FELT good, so I kept going and because it felt so good I had a TONNNNN of energy to execute allowing it to actually work.
I handed out more hugs, as I ended the one on ones and walked over to the table.The students eagerly start asking me questions. I answer.
Then, the Professor placed a bag on the table. Conversation at that point died down a bit.
She then takes a pump out of the bag, everyone looks.
What are you doing, replied one student.
The professor laughs saying - oh! I'm Balloon jamming.
And just like that the professor started making balloon animals at the table. I shit. you. not.
Dudes, these were the MOST ELABORATE balloon animals I have ever seen.
You just do this for fun? I ask
Actually, there's a group of us. All professionals that get together once a month and balloon jam together. Everyone has other jobs, but we just genuinely enjoy making animals together.
Amazing. I say
I have never heard of anything like this in my entire life. SOO COOL!
She then made me a rose ...
I laugh and say to Meg, you can't make this shit up man! What are the odds?!?! How random is life?!?!
People came and went all throughout the lunch (as we were there for 4 hours). I was exhausted by the end of it, but excited and inspired by the students to share my passion with them.
We then closed out, and went back to school for the final lecture.
This time, I had it DOWNNNN!!! I joked a bit more, and emphasized with EVERY OUNCE OF ENERGY left in my body, saying over and over THIS IS THE GREATEST TIME TO BE ALIVE!!! RIGHT NOW!!! Any one of you can walk out of this room RIGHT NOW and start a site, start a twitter feed, anything - every second is a chance for you to be inspired to make a change. I didn't know I was at a turning point in my life on November 3, 2009 - it found me and I followed it because it FELT GOOD!!!
THAT and ONLY THAT lead me towards my passion - I had found my purpose in life.
The students again cheer, and after a Q&A class was dismissed.
I did it, I thought. I faced my own fear and social anxiety today by being present, and just sharing what I knew.
UUGHHH!! Such a rad life experience, I thought.
A few students then asked for pictures, and hugs ... and OMG OMG OMG!! One actually gave me a goomba!
Made. My. Life.
Thank you so so so so SOO much Cal State Fullerton, and thank you Professor Gil, to all the students, and readers of the site that came out - thank you for your time. Enjoyed meeting you all!
I just want to say though in closing that to find your passion you just have to remove the fear. Face your fears, man. When you're not afraid to fail you do crazy shit - and THAT is when things get fun and THAT is when your eyes will start to open. First step though, start doing things that feel good. If something doesn't feel good, DONT DO IT!! It's that simple, man - which is why we trip ourselves up over it.
Peace love and lollipops dudes! I'm very very very invested in your success now, so keep me posted in social media on your progress!
Now 'cuse please, but I have a video to upload, and some emails to answer!! =) =) =)