The day finally arrived for the next Touch event, one of the highlights of my month. I love everything about it, the atmosphere, the venues, usually at intimate, cute little cafes, the incredible stories, the people, it’s all about the people. To be there when another human decides to bare all, share their story and be vulnerable in front of strangers is so beautiful, it brings me to tears.
Debs asked me if I’d like to host again and I’m glad she did. The first time I did it I was tiny bit nervous and also going through another confidence crisis due to a recent rejection which resulted in me stumbling a little, worrying whether maybe my accent might me too heavy and people can’t understand a word I’m saying, they might not like me or they wonder what the hell I was doing there, so now it was the perfect opportunity to just be the usual me, well almost, all things going wrong lately have taken its toll and I find it unbelievably tempting to hide from everyone and everything.
This event took place in Hamble, for the first time, thanks to Tesco Bags of Help. Did you know that Tesco uses the money they raise from the sale of carrier bags to fund local projects across communities in the UK? I had no idea. But Touch applied for funding and Tesco Bags of Help kindly donated money for Debs to run events across Hampshire, for free, and this was the first one.
So around 6:30pm, Hannah, Rachael, Debs and I were at the cutest little cafe situated on a picturesque street in Hamble, Jenny’s cafe, preparing for our story telling evening.
Question jars and fliers on the tables, mic set, and after I met all our lovely speakers, I had a warm chamomile tea and a slice of delicious Raspberry Bakewell cake, I was up to introduce our first guest.
This time I had a quick glimpse at my notes to make sure I don’t forget any important information and the most wonderful thing happened. I made everyone laugh. I could not believe it. What an amazing feeling. That moment right there, was one of those rare ones I felt overwhelmingly happy. I haven’t had one of these since early September, sitting on a swing on the most beautiful terrace at Cyherbia botanical park.
After my short introduction, Bhavin stood up in front of a now full of people cafe to share his life long struggle with low self-esteem, depression and severe anxiety. He is now doing so much better he made it to Hamble to talk to a group of strangers about it. He was nervous, his hands were shaking but he did it. And I can imagine how hard it might have been for him. I know first hand how debilitating anxiety can be, I know how it can physically and mentally paralyse you and it takes all your strength to control it. This is a prime example of what Touch is about. It’s such an honour and privilege to be there when a wonderful human shares his most personal, vulnerable story.
After presenting Bhavin with his ‘I told my story’ badge, Jan was up to share her story. It was, like Bhavin the first time she came to a Touch event and the first time she shared her story in public. Jan had an accident a while ago, which immobilised her for 14 weeks. For someone as active as Jan it was incredibly hard. She couldn’t cook, walk, drive, walk. And although tough, through her experience she discovered what a wonderful Community she lives in. Her friends and neighbours would make her dinner, drive her to the hospital, keep her company, made her feel she is never alone. She not only learned that it’s OK to ask for help but also that people love to help.
After a short break for more tea and cake and chats, it was time for Paul to share his story. I had no doubt he’d be a great speaker. I’ve met him earlier in the evening and he is one of those naturally charismatic people who makes you feel comfortable talking to him, truly listens and gives you all his attention.
I couldn’t believe that Paul used to hate public speaking. He avoided it for years and one day, whilst training on presentation skills realised that what he was scared was not public speaking, he realised he was terrified of being the centre of attention, due to his troublesome childhood. Coming to this realisation was not easy but he is now a life coach and loves public speaking. This the power of human nature. When you stop for a minute and take the time to look inside, be brave to face your fears and understand what it is that’s causing it, not be scared to be vulnerable. That’s when you become friends with yourself and can move forward.
The last speaker of the evening was our own Debs. Debs told her story many times before (you can watch her beautiful Southampton Tedx talk here), that’s what led her to found Touch but tonight it was a different story, one that I haven’t heard before. She talked about her journey, from a support worker, charity worker to a successful freelance project manager working in London. But that wasn’t her, that didn’t put her talents, her social skills and love of talking to people and her creativity to best use. So she quit and took a leap of faith and did what she always wanted to do, help others first hand by starting a social enterprise, Touch where anyone can come and share their own personal story and inspire one another. See, that’s when humans flourish, doing what they love. You just need to get over the scary part of taking the risk and ask. If you won’t ask, you’ll never know.
What a great end to a truly wonderful evening. Thank you to all the amazing speakers, the lovely guests who came to listen to all the inspiring stories, Lizzie at Jenny’s Cafe for her hospitality and delicious cakes and Debs and Hannah for introducing me to such a great community and letting me be a part of their amazing team.
That was one of the very few times in the last month or so I forgot about every single worry and pain. That was balm for the soul, my soul.
If you’d like to share your story or volunteer with us all details on the Touch website. And if you fancy coming along to one of these amazing evenings here is a list of all our future events. The next one is at the Point at Eastleigh, on the 18th of November and it’s free!