It’s not every day that someone asks you to give a TED Talk, but two lovely sophomores at Enloe High School asked if our own Allison Grubbs was up for the challenge at their upcoming TEDx event.

Recently, Allison made good on her promise, and it did not disappoint. Here’s what she had to say about her process and the subject that inspired her.

Can you tell us about your process in developing your TED Talk?

To develop this talk I followed the advice of the writer Anne Lamott and Brené Brown and created a “shitty” first draft. I had a tough time starting and kept getting caught up in how I wanted to begin, so I just started jotting down thoughts or recording my thoughts as voice memos to myself. I knew the topics I wanted to talk about and some of the ideas I wanted to convey but distilling that down into a 15-minute talk was difficult.

Self-compassion and connecting with our sensations in order to calm our nervous system can be hours (or days) worth of material. Once I wrote down my ideas as an outline, I began practicing and refining the talk by recording myself speaking. I’ve learned that writing for a talk that people will hear is very different than writing for a blog or article that people will read. I also practiced in front of friends and family and got lots of feedback.

What was your subject, and why inspired you to talk about it?

I spoke about the importance of finding our inner resource and how this can help us when faced with the painful experience of feeling rejected or feeling like we don’t belong. These are universal experiences and can be especially painful in the adolescent years. The reason they’re so painful is because we’re wired for connection, so any threat to that can feel really scary and can dysregulate our nervous system.

But, there is a simple, yet not often utilized way to regulate our nervous system and to help us feel more resilient, and to do that we track what we feel inside, specifically when recalling a resource. A resource is something that gives us pleasant feelings inside, and practicing self-compassion is a way for us to always have a resource with us. I feel very passionately about this topic and these exercises because I’ve experienced their effectiveness for myself and witnessed it helping those I work with as a therapist. I truly do believe it’s been life-changing for me.

What was the experience like delivering your talk?

In the words of Brené Brown, I felt brave and afraid all at the same time. When I was younger, I struggled with feeling shy and timid at school. I was often very afraid to even raise my hand and can still remember feeling panicked if the teacher called on me.

As the years went on this slowly improved, but I never imagined that I would be able to speak in front of a large group of people like this, yet I always wanted to. As much as I wanted the talk to be flawless and convey a message that would help others, I also realized that one of the biggest benefits from this experience was that it has fundamentally changed my narrative for myself. There were some technical difficulties while I spoke – I was very nervous – but I was also very excited to share this information. I feel really grateful that I was able to and really proud of how far I’ve come and can credit much of what I spoke about for helping me to do it.