How to introduce yourself | Kevin Bahler | TEDxLehighRiver

Translator: Manh Cao
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you. Hello, my name is Kevin Bahler. I am the grant writer
for Allentown Symphony Association. I always find that
a strange way to introduce myself. It's not that I don't like my job –
I'm very proud of it – but why is that our only introduction? When I was five,
I have lots of introductions. "Hi! My name is Kevin,
and my favorite color is green." "Hi! My name is Kevin,
and I have a cat named Tiger." "Hi! My name is Kevin,
and I love finger-painting!" Admittedly, that last one
was kind of playing it safe because, let's be honest,
who doesn't love finger-painting? But I didn't pick it because it was safe, I picked it because I was always honest and upfront
about who I was and what I loved.

When I was in elementary school, I changed my introductions
to match my newest interests. "Hi, my name is Kevin,
and I like watching Power Rangers." "Hi, my name is Kevin,
and I do the martial art Aikido." "Hi, my name is Kevin,
and my favorite food is quiche." Yes, I was a very weird boy,
and I admit it. But there reaches an age when being honest and open about yourself is the social equivalent of getting
"kick me" tattooed across your forehead. So as I got older,
I slowly picked the safer options. By the time I was in high school, I had changed my introductions
to match what was normal. "Hey, I'm Kevin,
and I like watching The Simpsons." "Hey, I'm Kevin,
and I like eating corn-pops." I didn't even tell people
I did martial arts.

And it's not I ever lied about myself, I just told people the parts of me
they expected to hear. How come? Well, in case you don't remember
high school very well, you need to fit in. And whether you want to fit in
with the popular kids or if you want to fit in
with a counterculture, If you want to have any friends, you need to have something
in common with somebody.

And the safer your introduction,
the more likely you are to connect. So I figured out
how to say the right things and I survived high school
without being ostracized as a "quiche-gobbling wannabe Ninja," and that was a victory. But when graduation day came,
I was so excited for college. This was a place where people
paid the money to learn. It had to be filled with
incredibly passionate people, right? Yeah, guess how wrong I was;
I'll give you a hint. It was a lot. It turns out that passionate or not,
everybody on campus had one introduction.

"Hey, I'm Kevin, and my major is …," and nobody cared what your major was. It was just the only
allowable introduction. But you know why? Because everybody had one. It was this way
to kind of define yourself, but always within the safety
of the established programs. I have to admit: I have not always been the charming, charismatic,
sharp-dressed man you see before you. In fact, I used to be a huge nerd
that would do anything to have friends.

pexels photo 9786318

So when I was in college,
I mastered the safe introduction, and I mastered the safe conversation,
and I mastered the safe friendship. And you know what?
Safe friends are boring! We didn't do anything. We sat in our dorms,
complained about teachers and homework, and that was 'hanging out.' By the time I was in junior year, I had more 'friends'
than I had time to spend with them. And I wasn't even enjoying myself. When I realized this,
it pushed me over the tipping point, and I finally stopped
caring about fitting in, and I started caring about being happy. So instead of being safe,
I started being honest. "Hi, I'm Kevin, and I'm fascinated
by chemistry and physics." "Hi, my name is Kevin,
and my favorite band ever is Muse." "Hi, my name is Kevin,
and I love finger-painting!" You don't grow out of it, you don't.

And the funny thing about
allowing myself to just be me is that all those boring people
stopped wanting to hang out with me because I wasn't safe. And all the people
who stuck around were awesome! These were people who did things:
we hiked, we swam, we practiced martial arts together, we could discuss anything from black holes to stand up comedians,
from Wittgenstein to Winnie The Pooh, and all the while, we were laughing. And it is so easy to get lost
in having a good time. So I made sure to remind myself
of one simple fact: I would never have my true friends if I wasn't willing to be rejected
by everybody else.

So when I graduated college,
I was ready to enter the real world. I'd learned to let go
of the safety of conformity, and I was ready to meet
other self-actualized adults. And guess how many I met. Yeah, about the same as you. It turns out that it was
just the same introduction from college, only now, with wore a suit, or more often, a name tag. "Hello, my name is meaningless,
and I am my job." Now, like I said at the beginning,
I am proud of my job. I'm privileged to be able
to earn my living by raising money for the symphony; but when I was nine,
I never introduced myself by saying, "Hi, my name is Kevin, and when I grow up,
I want to be a grant writer." I wasn't that weird of a kid. And even today, as an adult, there are things
that I'm far more passionate about than mailing out project budgets
and annual reports.

And passion is what this is really about. I find it so mind-blowing
that so many people have so many passions and so badly want
to share them with the world, but they don't for fear of being criticized
by people they don't even care about. I'll talk about my passion with anybody: some crowd at a party, the woman in line at the grocery store,
and you there in the back, whoever, because, if some stranger doesn't think
old kung fu movies are totally awesome, so what? I'm probably never
going to see them again, and it doesn't make me love them any less. But if that person is totally into
"The 36th Chamber of Shaolin," then I just made a new best friend. So no matter what, I win. And so can you. The ultimate question here is
how do you introduce yourself?' That's tricky. You know me pretty well by now, but I've a good eight minutes
to tell you who I am. How do you convey all of that
in a single sentence And that's something
you have to figure out for yourself, and I challenge you to do it.

But I know that it helps
to have an example to inspire you so allow me to close with my introduction, "Hello, my name is Kevin Bahler,
and I love it when people are truly happy. Thank you. (Applause).

As found on YouTube

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