I'm crazy about my beloved Toastmasters club, but that doesn't mean I don't retain a healthy sense of self-awareness about what we truly are: nerds nerds nerds.
People ask me why I go. Some people smirk a lot and look superior when they ask it, they're asking not to ask, but to let me know they know something. These are the people with a preconceived notion not only of Toastmasters, but of the world in general. The kind of people who also make immediate assumptions about someone who listens to Dr. Laura Schlessinger or is a fan of The Tom Leykis Show or sleeps with a married man or believes in reincarnation or only drives sensible cars.
What I'd ask someone who makes those kind of assumptions is, "What do you think of a person who does all of the above?"
This is the crux of it: if you make too many assumptions, you miss out on vast quantities of cool things, of huge swathes of life, of startling epiphanies, joyous surprises and yes, great sex. I know: first I missed out, now I watch (and watch, and watch) as other people do.
They miss out by trying to be cool (hint: really cool people are usually way down with the nerds).
They miss out by being cynical: sometimes that thing that's too good to be true is actually both good and true.
They miss out by playing it safe, opportunity does many things, but knocking twice at your door is rarely one of them.
Tonight, I drove 15 miles to be one of 10 people to hear two of the most amazing speeches I've heard in my life. One was about an actress who drove a taxi as her day job...from age 62 - 70; the other was a perfectly crafted story about the perils of judging a book by its cover, delivered with startling wit, grace and clarity by one who knows.
If you do not do the things that seem weird or strange or hopelessly nerdy because of fear or fatigue, you lose.
And the saddest thing of all is, you will never know how much.
Answer the ad. Pause to ask the question. Engage in conversation. Reward does not always follow risk, but it cannot exist without it.
Want more? I also wrote about Toastmasters and impromptu speaking exercises here.