I was fortunate to speak at two different high schools yesterday (Portage/Central Cambria, PA), spreading a message of “fight”. Not the kind I did in a cage, rather the kind we are all faced with on a daily basis; is fighting for what I really want/believe in really worth the struggle? Do I have the strength/will/fortitude to see it through, or should I take the easy road? Should I cash in the chips and settle for less than my best? OR do I fight tooth and nail and go out on my shield?

While I had a multitude of powerful connections throughout the day, one in particular sticks in my mind. Following my presentation, amidst a group of energetic high schoolers, a girl approached me from the side. I saw her coming from the corner of my eye and turned to greet her (At this point, there were probably 25 HS students in my vicinity).

She took a moment, collected her thoughts, and started to speak. She hesitated a bit, then continued on, talking about one of the books I mentioned during my talk. She had read it, and we began to go in depth about the book. She was visibly nervous, as most young people are when talking to “adults.” But shortly into our conversation, she paused for more than a few seconds. She was very uncomfortable, extremely nervous, so I put her at ease, expressing that it’s OK, “take your time.”

She was silent for 10 seconds. Her uncomfortability increasing. Then, she slowly started to say (paraphrased), “I’m very sorry. I have social interaction anxiety. This is very hard for me to do.” (I, Charlie, actually shedded a tear just now thinking about it).

I briefly talked with her about her anxiety and then brought the focus back onto the book. My thought was that the familiarity and comfort with the book would put her at ease. It did. We finished our brief interaction.

Prior to saying goodbye, I expressed how proud I was of her for fighting through that anxiety and struggle, for putting herself into a group of 25 energetic students to interact with me. It would have been easier for her to not approach me, not talk about the book and go on her way.

But she didn’t. She fought.

Everyone of us needs to fight.

I hope she reads this and and carries it with her into the next uncomfortable situation, and that another student/person reads it and takes it into their next uncomfortable situation…x 1 million.

I’m blessed to get on stage and share my message. Thank you Portage and Central Cambria High Schools for giving me the opportunity to create/receive such powerful moments.


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