Angela Ceberano: Be The Warrior, Not The Worrier – Fighting Anxiety & Fear at TEDxBedminster (Transcript)
Full transcript of Angela Ceberano’s TEDx Talk: Be The Warrior, Not The Worrier – Fighting Anxiety & Fear at TEDxBedminster conference. This event occurred on May 19, 2015 at Bedminster, NJ.
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Angela Ceberano – Owner, Flourish PR
I want to talk about anxiety. I have anxiety. I’ve always had anxiety. I was a born worrier. If I have nothing to worry about, I’ll worry about that.
So you can imagine when the good people of TEDx reached out and invited me to be a guest speaker here today, truth be told, I thought it was a joke. And then I freaked out. My thought process went a little like this. Wow! This is amazing; is this a joke? They can’t be serious. I can’t do this. There is no way; I hate public speaking. Doesn’t everybody hate public speaking? Actually maybe I can do this and wow this is amazing. And this is amazing. Being up here, doing this talk, it is great.
But you can see my thought process here. It went from really excited to fearful, back to excited again. And I think a lot of us go through this thought process when we are presented with opportunities that are outside our comfort zone. Being here on this stage, on the other side of the world, is definitely outside my comfort zone.
But I’m not just here, because I have anxiety. I’m here because the way that I view my anxiety has changed. I now view my fears, my worries, and my anxiety as a good thing and I use it to my advantage. When anxiety is at its peak for me, it can mean a number of things. Mostly it can mean a difficulty in sleeping; it can mean difficulty in eating and it can mean sitting up in bed at two, three, four a.m. in the morning, obsessing about the tiniest of details and role-playing different situations or scenarios in my head about how the future may or may not play out.
Now the ironic thing with me is that in my professional life I own and run a PR agency back home in Australia. And when I put my work head on, my professional head on, my anxiety and my fear it completely vanishes. I feel very strong and confident in the work that I do and so I have this struggle. I feel like I have this dual-personality thing going on because the way that I am in my professional life is very different to how I am in my personal life. And to be honest, I feel like I’ve probably hidden behind my career for such a long time because if I’m working — and I am a workaholic — if I’m working, it can mean I can avoid going out to different social events or I can avoid going out in general.
And so I started my own PR agency when I was 27 and many people told me that I couldn’t. It couldn’t be done and that I didn’t have enough experience. And for me I think there’s a lot of power in NO and I live my life like this. I get told ‘no’ a lot. I remember being at school and my teachers told me that I probably wouldn’t amount to much and I would certainly struggle going on to university. Let’s just say I was no scholar, I was shit at school. And when the teachers would tell me these negative comments, it drove me to work harder to not only prove them wrong but to get to where I actually wanted to be. I did go on to university and I graduated with honors. And then I went out and scored my absolute dream job which was working for the biggest record company in the world. It was an incredible job and I was the national publicity manager there. And I was working with all sorts of bands and artists, anyone from the Foo Fighters, one of my favorite events, to people like Celine Dion, so it was very diverse and it was an incredible job. I was there for eight years. And then I started my own PR company.
And I’ve had my own PR company for the last five years and we’re going from strength to strength. Just recently I realized that my whole life I’ve been fighting ‘No’ and I realized that I haven’t actually been fighting my fears. And maybe this has something to do with my anxiety.
I am sorry, I want to look at fear for a moment. Now research has shown that 40% of the things that we worry about never actually happen. 30% are in the past and they can’t be helped. 12% involved the affairs of others, so it’s not even our business to worry about them. 10% relate to sickness, either real or imagined. So that means that only 8% of the things that we worry about are only ever likely to happen.
There’s two ways of looking at fear. One is to do absolutely nothing and just remain in that bubble of comfort. And this is how I approached my fear — I didn’t approach my fear. I really stepped outside that comfort zone and looked at the issues that I was having in my personal life. All I did was work, I was a workaholic. I was comfortable working, working, working and I was comfortable when I was in the office.
But now the way that I approach fear is different. I take on fear like a warrior and for me this has given me unlimited opportunities and also unlimited happiness as well.
So speaking of happiness, I want to speak about my husband for a moment. Now this is my husband. His name is Phil and he is a professional musician and he’s a great guitarist and he plays to thousands of people in his professional life. But outside his work life he’s like a professional hobbyist as well. He has so much stuff going on in his life from surfing to cooking to gardening to fishing. This guy has it all going on. And my husband is the happiest person that I have ever met and it can’t just be because he married me. I’m sure that plays a really big role in his happiness but that can’t just be it.
And so when I look at my husband’s life I realize that, hang on a minute, he’s conquering fear on a pretty big level, almost every day. In his professional life he goes out there and he plays guitar to thousands and thousands of people. But in his personal life he is also attacking fear too. I mean the things that he does would freak me out. I mean he’d go surfing and he’s a karate expert. And so I took inspiration from my husband and I thought, OK, I’m going to get myself a hobby and I want my hobby to address some of the fears that I’m having in my own life as well. And so I refer to this as my fear project. And I created a hobby and addressed one of my fears.
So what was my fear? What was I scared of? Well, one of the things and there’s lots of things that I’m scared of but just one of the things that I was scared of was being in front of a camera. And for me again this is funny because in my professional life that’s what I do for a living. I put other people in front of the camera. I put the spotlight on everybody else that I’m working with. But when it came to me, well that was a whole out of the thing.
So I created a YouTube channel and I created a YouTube channel because it would address my fear, because I physically have to be in front of the camera. I’m my own host on my YouTube channel. And secondly, it would give me this creative outlet to get outside of my work head because I was very much within my own head and very much focused on work, work, work. And so it would give me a creative outlet to talk about something else that I was passionate about.
So what was I passionate about outside PR? Well, one of the things that I’m passionate about and I must admit I’m a little bit nervous to talk about this at a TEDx talk but it’s all about addressing your fears. And so one of the things that I’m passionate about is designer handbags. Yes, you did not see that coming at a TEDx talk, did you? No, but it is materialistic absolutely and it’s superficial, I agree with you. It is, I’m guilty of it. Some people go skiing in Aspen for fun. I don’t have time for that. So I buy designer handbags and to me they’re like little pieces of art and I love them.
So on my YouTube channel, I talk about designer handbags, talk about other things as well. I talk about fashion and travel and I do these really fun Q&A videos where my viewers write in and ask me questions, like what is it like to be a girl boss? How can you afford a $3000 handbag and how do you justify that to your husband?
So as you can see I’m really tackling the big issues on my YouTube channel. But the greatest thing in having this fear project is that it’s actually hunted one of my fears in addressing them. And this is really the idea that I want to get across today is thinking about the things that you worry about or that make you anxious and creating a project to tackle those fears head-on.
Now my YouTube channel has had hundreds of thousands of views and that’s awesome but in stepping outside my comfort zone and attacking one of my fears head-on, like a warrior, has actually presented a lot of amazing opportunities. In fact, the reason I’m here today is because one of the TEDx organizers was a viewer on my YouTube channel. And so being here was something that I could never have imagined prior to tackling my fear.
So now the greatest thing isn’t that I have thousands of subscribers on YouTube channel, the greatest thing is that in conquering one of my fears, my anxiety levels have actually decreased and my happiness has increased across the board, not only in my professional life but also in my personal life as well. I now like to refer to myself as a fear fighter. This is really the idea that I want to share today. It’s all about creating a fear project, the things that worry you, make you anxious in your life taking them head-on and becoming a fear fighter.
When I stopped worrying about everything in my life, my life got so much easier and my life got more productive. You’ll see in this photo I’m jumping up and down on a beach looking very happy and looking very free. And this is how I feel when I’m conquering my fears. I don’t always look like this. I certainly did not look like this before this TEDx talk today. And I guess you could say that this TEDx talk has been like a fear project for me because it’s certainly outside my comfort zone. And when I feel anxious or when I feel worried I go ahead and I create another fear project. And I will probably have another 200 fear projects to go.
My call to action is this: Take on fear. Don’t always take no for an answer. Create fear projects and become a fear fighter and use fear to motivate you and energize you to actually get on and do the things that you want to do in your life. Be the warrior, not the worrier.