I have been involved in advocating for myself and other foster kids for four years now. Because of this I looked at myself as a pro when it came to public speaking, I mean I could stand up and tell my whole life story to anyone who cares to listen without blinking an eye. I have done many public speaking opportunities ranging from charity balls, panels, conferences, and speaking to youth where I would tell my story in hopes to raise awareness of the problems foster kids face as well as to advocate for change.
Recently I was asked to go on my local news station to tell my success story of how I aged out of foster care. So I did what I have always done. I met up with Beth Malicki and I told her my life story, focusing on the time of me aging out of the foster care system. She asked me why I entered care and I told her the story of my life and what caused me to enter the foster care system. I didn't see anything wrong with this because it was the truth. I was wrong. My mother got very angry with me for putting our family's business out in the public and it damaged our relationship.
When I came to this internship I was taught about strategic sharing and that's when I realized how I messed up. I learned that although these things may be true and they may have gotten me to where I am today, that doesn't mean they don't offend people. We did an activity where we had someone share their story and we held up red, yellow, and green cards in coordination to how we felt about the things they were saying. If someone was going into a touchy subject then we held up a yellow card and if they said something that made us uncomfortable then we held up a red card. When I talked about the abuse my mom went through my peers held up red cards which showed me that I was talking about something that caused a bad trigger for someone in the audience. So instead I said that my parents had struggles that led them to not be able to take care of me and the audience put up green flags which meant it was good. This strategic sharing helped me know what to say and what not to say when I'm presenting to an audience so that I can get my message across in an effective way without hurting anyone listening.
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