Excerpts from my speech for Toastmasters International Speech Contest 2021.
The speech fetched me first prizes and Club and Area level , and an opportunity to represent my club at Division level contest.
Year 2017, Chandigarh.
It was my first time participating in a district level contest. Infact it was my first time participating in any contest cycle for that matter .
Before my turn came, I asked my father who was there to support me.
"Papa, I am in my thirties and mother, do you think it's a little too late for me to be participating in public speaking contests."
And He said: "Charu, I started my career in my thirties. I spent my twenties doing graduation, post graduation, finding myself, doing doctorate and post doctorate. It was in my thirties that I landed my first stable job.Your mother started learning painting after you were born, Boman Irani started acting in his forties, do you think we were late ? ?
You are not a late bloomer Charu, it's just that your time starts now !"
Contest Chair, and my fellow timely bloomers,
What my father had said that day brought me peace. I was adjudged one of the winners and in my high spirits I declared:
"Papa, tell you what toastmasters has unleashed a new creative beast inside me. I plan to pen down my ideas in a book and start my entrepreneurship journey."
And he replied equally excited
"That's very nice. NOW is the time for you."
I said " NOW? Now is too early. I have to sort out a few things first. "
And he said : " Charu, I starter giving tuitions when I was 15,your mother married me when she was 19 , Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook when he in his 20s . Do you think we were early ??
It's never too early to start. It's never too late to start. The important thing is to start . And your time starts NOW."
I listened to him but didn't understand him.
I was not convinced. I had a full time job and I had a toddler who kept me on my toes all the time.
Time and again, my father would enquire, "Have you started working on your book idea ?"
And I would say " No yet, Now is not the right time."
To this he once said " Charu, your brain is meant to generate ideas not store them. Brain is meant to store memories not ideas. You have to act on your ideas or else they go stale and stink. Charu you disappoint me. You have to take responsibility for your ideas and your dreams."
I replied "Well Papa, you know me, I have been so responsible since my childhood . Remember whenever anything went wrong during my childhood days, you always held me responsible."
The joke did not have the desired effect and he looked at me as if I had committed a grave mistake.
I added, "Papa, I told you that the time was not right, for when the time is right your mistakes get passed as jokes and when it is not, even your jokes come across as grave mistakes."
To this, he smiled and said "There is no right time to joke. There is no right time to make mistakes. Past and future are psychological realms. They only time you have is NOW. Right NOW is Right."
I listened to him but didn't understand him.
I was still waiting for that right time, you know the time when everything falls into place, when my daughter has grown up a little more, when reach a senior management position , when things are easy."
It was one phone call during wee hours of April 2019 that shook my world and made me understand what he meant.
You see, I sought more time to make him proud but he was no more to be proud.
His sudden death made me give my all to my dream or shall I say, our dream project.
The time was rough, my mother was depressed, my brother was not settled yet, I had added responsibilities and my only support system was gone but I knew , that it was my time to start.
Well meaning people asked me. "You seem too busy pursuing your ideas. Shouldn't you be mourning your father."
But I was not mourning him. I was busy celebrating him and his ideas. For I Now knew, that ideas are meant to be acted upon and memories are to be stored.
My book got published and although I am not a Chetan Bhagat or a Preeti Shenoy but work has found a loyal audience. Each day I am a little closer to my dream .
Sometimes I am not too sure of my ideas. Sometimes I am not too sure of myself but I keep trying.
My father often used to quote lines from Baz Lazhrman song called "Always wear sunscreen"
"Don't feel guilty if you don't know what to do if your life.
The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22.
The most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't."
The lines signify that it's okay if you don't know where your life is heading as long as you think and try.
It makes you more interesting,..not more successful or accomplished, ...but more interesting and lively. And these are the two traits which embody the spirit of being alive.
So what if you tried and failed?
You are much better than those who did not try because they thought that the time was not right.
You are in your 20s , still in college, congratulations your time starts NOW!
You are in your 40s , with loads of responsibilities, congratulations, on your maturity, your time starts NOW !
I am in thirties, a mother of one and expecting other soon. But my time starts NOW. So does YOURS !
Mr timer, ...please take a note, for I now conclude my speech with the most profound words ever spoken.
On your mark, get set go,
your time starts now !!