It was his first TEDx speech.
He rehearsed for yet another time on the way to the venue. A lot of people knew about his achievements already. This was his chance to let them know the story behind it – the pain and hardships he had to undergo to make it happen.
“Not every seedling becomes a tree! Dreams don’t just fructify out of thin air. They need intense effort, discipline and dedication. They need a lifetime of sacrifice. Stuff that people with broken spine simply cannot manage.” He looked at himself in the mirror in the car and felt a sense of pride creep into the corner of his lips.
He imagined a full audience. A standing ovation at the end of it all. People going hush over his achievements. He could see wannabe-aspirants looking up to him in awe.
“Slow down, soak it in, live in the moment.” He reminded himself.
“And don’t forget to thank all those people in the list.” Of course, he had taken time to prepare a long list of people. Few had genuinely helped him, and few were there just for the sake of a diplomatic mention.
“Sir, your destination has arrived,” the Uber driver announced.
He paid the driver and staggered onto the venue. It was a large convention center with seating capacity for five hundred people.
Five hundred people just to listen to him?! That made him feel special.
He was greeted by Madan, the coordinator.
“Great to have you here today, Sir,” he muttered.
“Thank you,” his lips a little dry by now.
As he walked in, he was a little surprised. The hall was nearly empty.
All of seven people decorated the huge expanse of the hall. He looked at Madan, quite unsure if the timing was wrong.
“Actually, it’s a long weekend, sir. Turnout is quite low. I think it will pickup in another 30 minutes.” He spluttered half-apologetically.
“That’s alright,” he replied pretentiously trying to hide his disappointment.
They waited for 20 minutes to see if anyone else joined. No one did. It was time for him to start his magnum opus.
He struggled and splattered through out his speech. He missed the punch lines. At some point, he simply read out the notes he had taken. It was pure misery and in the end, he was glad that it was done with.
On his way home, thoughts raced through his mind.
“Why do I feel so low just because the turnout was poor? My achievements were real. Do the admiration and appreciation matter more to me than the achievements itself?”
“Were all these achievements just a form of external validation, all to please an invisible gallery?”
“How much does appreciation and admiration matter to me?”
As he got out of the car, a large green dustbin stared at him.
He dumped the speech notes down the neck of the dustbin and walked away!