Thank you for coming to my TED talk. But seriously.

I have been trying really hard lately to step out of my comfort zone and do “adventurous” things.  My anxiety disorder is still ever-present but it’s been more manageable the last few months and my shrink says I need to take advantage of this while it lasts and do scary (but not too scary) things as part of my behavioral therapy.  And that’s how I got into the terrifying position of doing a TEDx talk in a few months.

My talk will be very short and because it has to do with having mental illness maybe people won’t judge me so harshly if I carry a table to hide under onto the stage.  Or maybe I’ll do it facing the back of the stage like Sia.  Or maybe I’ll do it from the safe and warm inside of a t-rex costume.  Hard to say.

Click here to get tickets.

And perhaps avoid the front row in case I start vomiting.  Or at least bring a waterproof poncho.

173 thoughts on “Thank you for coming to my TED talk. But seriously.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Hmm, maybe just bring that scary puma with you. Then everyone will be staring at it and not you?!

  2. You were made to deliver a TED talk! But if the anxiety gets to be too much, just start singing “Achy Breaky Heart” right in the middle of your speech, then cast your eyes about the audience and ask in a sheepish voice, “Isn’t this karaoke night?” before apologizing under your breath and exiting stage left.

  3. Good luck!
    Public speaking is super scary. I did it for a living, and never truly got over the nerves. I just used that energy to fuel what I was doing.
    Anyway, I hope it goes well, and will it be shared online for those of us not lucky enough to go in person?

  4. Fabulous! Your fan club will hold you up! (Will it eventually appear on YouTube for those who can’t make any of the dates?)

  5. Jenny I’ve been to a bunch of your readings/signings. You’re a wonderful, warm, funny, engaging person on stage and in the signing line. Doesn’t even matter what you talk about: you’ll be awesome, even if there’s a T-Rex suit or vomit (but maybe don’t vomit IN the suit…).

  6. All the best Jenny with the talk. I hope it gets recorded so people elsewhere can see it too. I suppose that’s also a way to be protected (just in case).

  7. If I lived anywhere near Texas I would go in a heartbeat! I’m sure you’re going to be amazing.

    I, for one, vote on the T-Rex costume idea, btw.

  8. THIS MAKES ME SO PROUD TO ‘KNOW’ YOU. <3 Also I would love to see you give the talk dressed as a T-Rex wearing a NOWHERE BOOK STORE SHIRT.
    PS I would like to have a bookmark that reads I AM NOW HERE in NOWHERE. #JustASuggestion 🙂

  9. 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻You got this! You could also take Sia’s idea of wearing a wig that covers your face.

  10. Wowowowowow!!! You’re brave as hell, woman! I know you’re gonna knock ’em dead. This is all so exciting, between the bookstore and now this? What a wild 2019!

  11. Congrats! I am a teacher, and I have zero fucks to give about standing in front of classrooms of teenagers, but for a TED talk, I might revert to tricks from my high school performance years, take my glasses off and stare at the blurry lumps beyond the lights and think “I am talking to stuffed animals and this is fine.”

  12. OH, I desperately hope this is available on youtube or somewhere! I would LOVE to hear it! You’ll be great, Jenny!

  13. I’m so excited for you, congratulations!!! You’re going to knock it out of the park!

  14. I am so excited for you! And so PROUD of your daring. Love you. You will be amazing! Wish I could come to TX to see this, but I’ll be there in spirit cheering you on, and you can bet I’ll watch it on the TED channel!

  15. Can I just put in a vote for you doing it in a T-Rex costume? That would be so fabulous! Make dealing with anxiety fun!

  16. Congratulations! Hopefully it will be fun for you! Visualize yourself at the end of it, hearing applause, getting congratulatory hugs from loved ones and feeling proud as hell. That’s the only way I can get through sometimes.

    I am suddenly TOTALLY READY for facing fears and taking risks and doing brave shit. I’ve been sending emails to ask businesses to hang my art, to galleries, to local groups for membership opportunities, calling employers who aren’t responsive enough, making small business partnerships in fields I have no experience in – it’s a rush! I was too afraid for YEARS to do these things. Unfortunately, no one is answering my emails! You can’t control the responses of other people, but you can control YOU, and you can do crazy shit.

  17. I obviously need to move to Texas….Ted talks, bookstore…..
    I will be flying in for the bookstore! Woot woot!
    Good luck on the TedTalk

  18. This will be recorded, right? My daughter will be beside herself – she’s a Ted Talk addict and you are her favourite authour!

  19. Can’t be there personally but will definitely be there in support. Not to totally freak you out, but I can’t to enjoy it on the TED You Tube channel shortly afterwards. What an wonderful stomach knotting experience. Perhaps you should bring some of your stuffed friends on stage with you? Remember you can also just tell stories from your books. Your audience will love hearing them even if they’ve read them previously. I know I would.

  20. I am a professional speaker coach and have prepped many a TED speaker. Let me know if you’d like any coaching or prep assistance. I get the whole anxiety+stage+vulnerability+authenticity+prepared speaker dilemma 🙂

  21. Yay! If it’s at all helpful, I am a professional speaker coach and have prepped many a Ted talk speaker. Let me know if you would like any coaching, advice, or just help preparing. Either way I will be sending you al kinds of good juju speaker vibes!

  22. In the wise words of Neil Gaiman: “Pretend you’re good at it”.

    But seriously, you’ve got this!

  23. What a wonderful venue for you! I love TedTalks! I know you can do it! So…Knock it out of the park. Break a leg. Strut Your Stuff. Bring down the house. Shout Merde (you may not be a dancer but it can’t hurt)! Entertain the f*#k out of ’em. There will probably lots of Jenny’s Tribe in the audience to cheer you on!

  24. You, Jenny, make me wish I was in TX to see you do all these amazing things. And that’s really saying something as hot weather literally makes me ill. You’re amazing and I’m so proud of you. This is going to be fantastic, t-rex suit or no.

  25. Oh Jenny! You should be so proud of yourself hugs Regardless of what happens, you’ll have material for your next book, so try and just enjoy yourself and the experience!

  26. Go big or go home stepping out of your comfort zone! Everyone has been in uncomfortable positions, so everyone knows how you’re feeling. You will be amazing no matter what. 💕

  27. You are amazingly brave. I wish I lived closer so I could show support. You will be brillant!

  28. Practice in front of someone that will give you real constructive criticism. That always helped me out because once they say I’m good, I know I’m good. And that helps the nerves A LOT!! And if you can practice AT the venue at least once to get the nerves out, that’s a big help as well. Even if you can get on the stage a few minutes to just know your space.

    I’ve done tons of talks and presentations, and those are always things that help me out.

    A friend of mine does a thing like “I’m allowed to freak out for 5 minutes” and then sets a timer before his presentation and for 5 minutes let’s himself feel all the feels and then when the timer goes off he’s ready. So that might be a good tactic too. It doesn’t deny the feelings you are feeling, but stops you from dwelling on them.

  29. Oh, if I had money to travel just to see you hiding in a dino suit or under a table.. I’d so be there! Your tribe has your back! I hope to catch it on youtube at some point!!! <3

  30. You got this. And will it be on the Ted websites so those of us not in TX will be able to see?

  31. You’ve got this! If I can babble at a webcam for a live stream for an hour and a half (I cried afterwards), you can do this. I have faith in you. 🙂

  32. Do you still have that Teddy Bear costume? Or you could do a ventrilaquist act with your raccoon or squirrel friends? Hope it goes well!

  33. That is fucking awesome. You already know how to do it. You have Neil’s advice. You are excellent at this sort of thing. x

  34. Please recognize that you+anxiety is a lot braver than a lot of us who don’t have anxiety. You’re awesome.

  35. I saw do it under a table. It ties in both your books so that’s cross promotion and continuity. Then you can say you did it as a business decision

  36. You will rock it. I wish I lived close enough to attend. I love your ‘voice’ in your writing and would love to see you ‘in action’. (Will it be posted on line later?) As the theater group would say, ‘Break a Leg.’ (And you know that is for luck.)

  37. PLEASE for the sake of all that is good and taxidermied and furiously happy, please wear a DINOSAUR COSTUME! if you don’t already have one, i’ll set up a go fund me, i’ll organize a car wash, i’ll think of other things to do… 💜

  38. I can’t be there in person, but I’ll be there in spirit and definitely watch the replay. You can totally do it!! We all love you and are rooting for you. Besides. Bring Beyonce. The audience’ll never know what hit ’em. 😛

  39. If your TED talk winds up on YouTube, I will definitely watch it! Btw, your furiously happy books are in stores across Canada. I saw a bunch the other other day at Indigo and thought of you ♥️

  40. T-Rex is totally on brand! Also kind of a nod to Allie Brosh! You can do it, and if I wasn’t a bazillion miles away, I’d be getting a ticket RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

  41. Whatever props you bring will just help to illustrate your talk. Ask them to fashion a little reading nook for you to talk from so it’ll be just like when you talk at bookstores. I can’t wait to see the recording later. You rock!

  42. Please don’t feel ashamed for having a mental illness. Many, more than you think, have diagnosis of one or more of the maladies falling under the umbrella of mental illness. When one with an illness who is a public figure feels ashamed it leads others to feel the same. If you can accept your illness and speak freely about it you give power to the thousands of us with a diagnosis. Ain’t no shame in an illness!

  43. you should get someone to livestream it for your fans. at least if i watched it from home i would be safe from vomit. lol

  44. You’ll rock this. I know it. (I had a 10 second panic moment when I saw the speakers though. Dan Cooper is awfully close to my name and I thought “wait! WHAT?! I don’t want to do a talk!” and then just as quickly realized it made zero sense for it to be me.)

  45. I’d personally go for the T-Rex outfit. I want one SO badly and how perfect for a talk on mental illness!

  46. Jenny you are incredible! Look at you.. you will be traveling to Italy soon, you’re working on opening an amazing bookstore/bar, and now this! Wow. Wow. Wow. Even with all the tremendous challenges you face your gracefulness and bravery is unyielding…unwavering. You are such an inspiration. 👏👏👏

  47. Great! Looking forward to seeing on video (a trip to San Antonio isn’t in the budget, alas.) Any thoughts about speaking in Albuquerque or someplace within a day’s drive?
    I share some of your diagnoses – I have bipolar I AND dysthymia and PTSD, along with chronic pain from my arthritis, scoliosis, and assorted joint injuries (when I was younger I had surpluses of enthusiasm and clumsiness, a bad combo.)
    I was terrified of public speaking even with a script, but my duties forced me to do it anyway, and in short order I found I loved it. It’s basically having a conversation with a group of people. I’ve seen your YouTube videos of talks at bookstores, and you’re a natural, whether you know it or not.
    For someone with a sharp mind, a great sense of humor, and a fascinating story like you, they’ll be eager to hear what you have to say. I never saw an audience judge a speaker, myself or others, negatively for being open about having their mental illnesses, either. If anything it inspires people and helps them lose their own fears of the same kind of openness.
    If you have any chances to practice first with a smaller group, that might help. Also, it helps a lot to tell them up front about your nervousness – it takes its power away.
    Knock it into the bleachers, or break a leg, whichever is the right thing to say.

  48. Holy heck I would pay soooo much to see you speak about mental illness in a t-rex costume!! Sending lots of encouragement since I can’t be there in person. So excited for you!! (whether or not there is a t-rex costume involved)

  49. Wow Jenny, I started crying when I saw this because I’m very happy for you and I think it will be wonderful! At the same time, I know it is totally your choice whether to do this or not, and I support you whatever you decide.

  50. You can do this. I did a TEDX talk 3 years ago. They are hard and wonderful and worth the work and effort. My dear, wonderful father died about a month before it happened and that (somehow) destroyed my memory cells, so memorizing my talk was a bear. But the niftiness of TED talks is their conversational style, so as long as you don’t let on that you muffed something, but keep charging forward, it will be fine. There, that’s my TEDX advice.

  51. I desperately wish I could be there! Please tell me this will show up on youtube, and you will provide a link!

  52. Jenny, I’m like you and have TERRIBLE stage fright. I tell my students who also have stage fright to spend at least five minutes breathing slowly beforehand and it helps. It also makes people who are talking to you wonder what you’re up to. I just learned that meditative breathing helps with anxiety and makes your brain remember details more clearly at the same time.

    I try to get in front of a microphone at least once a month. Do you have an open mic reading event near you so you can practice? The Seattle area has bunches. Repetition helps with fear. I mean, you probably have to say different stuff since you want your TED talk to be original, but getting up there might be easier if you’ve practiced in front of locals and friends.

    I’m so excited for you! Try to enjoy it, or at least take time to enjoy it once it’s over. Sending hugs.

  53. I won’t be able to make it in person (I live in Canada) but I’m so excited to see it online afterwards. And I vote for the T-Rex costume to hide in!

  54. AWESOME!!! Wish I could come! You got this! You’ll be great and I cant wait to read about it!

  55. I gave a grand rounds on how mental health stigma isn’t just mean it’s also lethal (and used some quotes from Furioudly Happy to illustrate how universal the experience of psychic anguish, if not necessarily mental illness is, plus to point out how much more badass it is to choose to get up and face each day when it hurts to breathe than it is to get up when that’s an easy thing to do) and to get through it because I was SOOO nervous, I made a list of all the people who would love me anyway. If I fucked it all up royally. If the audience was hostile, if someone asked for a citation I didn’t have readily available, if no one gave a shit what I was saying- all my implausible but terrifying nightmare scenarios- and I put that list of people who would love me anyway in my back pocket so I could look at it if I started to freeze. It all went well. Having the list helped keep my anxiety at bay. Practice made the talk flow like an easy verbal river.
    PS to anonymous 86 Shrinks don’t have any more power than any other human to literally MAKE someone do something. But shit, man, we wouldn’t be earning our keep if we didn’t prod and poke and cajole with compassion when the situation called for it. Why see a shrink if you don’t want a different perspective from time to time?
    Jenny, we all will love you anyway, because of and no matter what.

  56. I looove ted talks and I love you (not in a creepy stalker way) more of a you are my inspiration way.

  57. Have Beyonce (either the metal chicken one or the real one), Ferris, Hunter, and Dorothy also on the stage with you. It would be LEGENDARY and you will be crowned Ted Queen.

  58. I’ve just heard a great interview about this year’s Ig Nobel prizes. One included a study of wombats and their cubed shaped poo. The winners wore fantastic costumes including a wombat suit to accept the award. These sound like awards that would be of great interest to the blogess community.
    PS congratulations to Jenny on pushing her boundaries and trying new and scary experiences!

  59. If I like v enclosed, I would come, but travelling to San Antonio from Idaho is a bit iffy in the winter months. You are always amazing,and you will be amazing at the TEXt! Congratulations on one step forward for Jenny!!!!!

  60. Congrats on victories over anxiety (even if they’re temporary). You’ll be great and if I lived closer, I’d totally be there with a metal chicken and a waterproof poncho. Will Nowhere be open by then? Maybe I can find an excuse to travel down there to see you speak and visit Nowhere!

  61. You are going to be amazing! If you need to wear a t-rex costume. Many of us would probably show up wearing one also, for solidarity.

  62. You are very brave and strong. You also have a gift that you’re able to communicate things in a way which people want to hear. So you’ll be amazing as always. Looking forward to hearing it!

  63. You got this! If you can stand at a podium and read from your books,youre in like Flynn as they say. Who they are,I really don’t know but any way you have my support,from my little corner of LP NY

  64. The table would be fine. The T-Rex costume would be mucking hot under the lights.

  65. Are you fucking kidding? Do it from under the sheet looking like a ghost in total Halloween spirit!

  66. Can it be watched online? I’d love to see your talk but I live in Ohio


    PS I got the best compliment at work the other day and I wanted to pass it along, so thank you for being you!

  67. I will be there in my heart! You’ve got this! And if you sit under a table while you talk, people will really get it. Pinky-swear.

  68. T-Rex!!! I’m laughing so hard at that vision. Thanks for the snort.
    I hope we get to see/hear this at some future date. ♥

  69. Just signed up to attend because you are speaking 🙂 (I have attended in the past, but have missed the last few years) (I also deal with anxiety, although I have only recognized that was what was going on in the last couple of years–was in complete denial before that, which meant I was also depressed most of the time)

  70. I think if you bring any of your favorite oddities, you’ll do just great. (✿ ♡‿♡)

  71. I’ll be with you in spirit. You’ve worked so hard to reach some kind of detente with anxiety;
    I’m stoked that your efforts are paying off, even if sometimes it might get the best of you. Thank you for speaking out about mental illness. your voice helps us all.

    And take a table in a shade that will bring out the lovely colour of your eyes.

  72. I think you should begin by demonstrating how to build a blanket fort, and then give the talk from the blanket fort. Two talks in one!! Congratulations, you superstar!!

  73. Woohoo! You will kick ass, as we all know you will! And you could always do something similar to Gallagher, who smashes watermelons on-stage. Maybe not full-sized watermelons, though, as you’re just a dainty lady. Or not! I don’t know squat, so I’d probably suggest smashing durian! Anyhow, congrats, superstardom is yours!

  74. This is why we should be living near San Antonio, but I just can’t convince my husband to move. I want to see your TED talk and I want to spend a lot of time nowhere.

    You’ll do great.

  75. My first thought was “Damn it!I’ll be on my honeymoon out of the country starting the 8th.”

    You got this. You always do. We love and support you. People need that mental health connection.

  76. Just pretend that you’re a person who can easily and comfortably give a TED talk. Of course this isn’t an original thought but I just can’t bring to mind where I’ve read this advice.

    Of course there’s always the T-Rex costume!

  77. Damn! Youre getting ALL the love from me here in Berk. I’m so impressed and proud of your efforts! And if closer i’d totally be in the front row in a waterproof T rex costume. YOU GOT THIS!!!!

  78. I never thought a TED talk would have a splash zone…

    Good luck with the talk; you’ll do fine however you decide to do it!

  79. Wear that great black dress with pockets that you’ve never worn outside the house. You know the one … from a few posts below … the one that cat hair doesn’t stick to. You’ll wow them.

    Wish the TED talks were closer to me.

  80. Arrange stuffed animals around the stage like a group of kids sitting to listen to you as you read them a story. Sit on a chair facing your stuffed friends and talk to them. The audience can listen to you talking to your friends, and if the light are down low on the audience, and all you see are your stuffed buddies, you might just forget the audience are out there, until, of course, they clap. Then you might fall off your chair in surprise. But at least until then you’ll able to block out their presence. I know you’ll do great!!

  81. It would be totes awesome if it could be recorded and shared! I have a baby now that I can cuddle if I’m sad but your works are my second favorite coping mechanism.

  82. Omg Jenny, if I weren’t so far away, I’d camp out for this! However, I have similar struggles, and I’m starting a new job, so……..

    I hope it will be available to watch after the live production!

  83. you will be wonderful. You will be funny and nervous and funnier and they will laugh in the right places and they will love you. You are, I don’t think you realize this, eminently forgivable. No one judges you badly. Just be Jenny.

  84. Wow, congratulations! I won’t be able to attend in person but I will be giving you a standing ovation from the Internet!!

  85. You did wonderful when I met you in New Orleans at the book store…and thank you for signing my chicken. You got this, you can do it !

  86. Highly recommend taking props. Take that table- with a long table cloth. If you need to, hop underneath, they’ll still hear you. Better yet, get the lights guy/girl in on it….if you go under the table they have to dim the lights & bring the audience with you to a quiet dark place. They can still hear you with the microphone. On top of the table, bring your support animals. The stuffed ones. The old dolls. A photo of Hailey singing. The keys to your new bookshop. Bring things so that if you get stuck, you can grab any one if them and talk about them. Props are cool and interesting. Alternatively, get a friend inside that huge teddy bear to go onstage & mime as you talk from behind the scenes….at the end, walk out from the back & confuse them all. Above all, have fun. You are amazing.

  87. Just put on your favorite confidence wig and go kick some ass. If you need to hide under a table, that’s perfectly ok, too.

  88. You are wonderful! Of course your TED talk is going to be fabulous! And congratulations on stepping out of your comfort zone. I count it a win when I can get to my hairdresser’s salon twice a week, and she does my hair for free. She’s my only friend in S. FL (we do lunch sometimes after she does my hair). BUT I’VE LIVED HERE FOR 5 YEARS! If I stepped out of my comfort zone and actually went out to some of the places she’s invited me to with all the new people I’d meet (cuz she knows everybody), I’d probably meet new people.
    You inspire me.

  89. Did I mention you inspire me so much that I started a blog that pokes fun at my various assortment of fruit flavored mental illnesses? Mostly, I blog about vacations and family reunions and my ongoing fight with technology, which I invariably lose.
    You inspired me to take a “formal” blogging class from which I learned I was doing everything wrong, right down to the name of the site. But, I’m still slogging away at the class, have learned a ton, and still keep my ineptly named site alive by going on it from time to time and doing everything wrong again for old times sake. These are the posts where I just regurgitate everything that’s in my brain and kvetch about whatever’s bugging me at the time. It loosens the tight-ass rules I have to follow in class where they’re hard on you. As a matter of fact, I’m supposed to be working on my next class post to be graded as we speak, but I’d rather welcome your new general manager and tell you that you’ve got this TED talk covered. Top to bottom, you’re the best and you should know that. You keep me going. I am slightly concerned that you may not have a giant metal chicken to greet the thousands of book buyers I know will visit your new shop. I’m currently on my second reading of “Furiously Happy,” the Kindle version. It’s just as good, if not better, the second time around.
    Give ’em hell, Jenny! Btw, a few chickens in your front yard will eat insects, and they’ll stay in the yard and not wander off. It’s training them not to go potty on the front porch that’s the only hard part.
    Many blessings from my heart to yours~Vicky.

  90. The best prop you could bring would be the bear, just standing there. no explanation, just the Presence. Oh I do hope there will be a video of this so we can admire you. The last time I had to speak to an audience, I focused not on the rapt front row (which can drive every word you ever knew from your brain) but the guy in the back row that you could only barely see. it seemed to anchor me.
    I wish you well, lady.

  91. Congratulations, Jenny! I think you would be cuter in a turtle costume though, and could resort to your shell if needed. All reptile jokes aside, I know you will rock it. Shine on!

  92. Jenny, you’re going to be great- and just think, the audience will more than likely be a subset of us. Wish I could be there! You won’t be talking to strangers at all.

  93. This is terrific, Jenny, although in no way do I want to minimize your anxiety about doing a Ted talk. I would feel anxious as well if I were asked to do such a thing. But I just think that by doing this talk, you will offer such a useful and valuable viewpoint to a broader audience. We, your blog followers, are your biggest fans and feel that if you can reach even more people with a Ted talk, then we want you to do that! Best of luck and know that we are all rooting for you. You’re gonna do great, kid!

  94. O Jenny please know that even if you fucked it up royally, which I don’t for a minute think you will, but even if that happened every single person on this list will still love you to infinity and beyond! You are a force for good in the universe and we all have your back. Go T-Rex!

  95. Perhaps all attendees should wear t-rex costumes. everyone should wear t-rex costumes. it would be for the best.

  96. Yowzers! That’s totally AWESOME! and I can’t wait to read about it afterward. TED talks are fabulous. Sorry to be missing the in-person experience.

  97. You are going to be great. Wish I could be there in person but I’m looking forward to seeing it online. Remember we love you! 💜

  98. This is so cool, you’re going to do great!!! I wish I lived close enough to make it, just know we’re all sending the best vibes!!! ❤️❤️

  99. YAS!! You should DEFINITELY take a table and sit under it during your talk. I love everything you do to bring light and exposure to mental health awareness. Keep being you Jenny!

  100. If you cry, so what. If you barf, so what. People like me will still love you and listen to what you have to say. We’ve all cried and barfed, at some point. Sometimes at the same time.

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