In a few hours, I'm speaking at the TED conference, and I'm nervous. I should be well accustomed to public speaking at this point, but I just have to say: There is something about speaking at TED that makes people shit their pants.

I want to tell you this because is my second time here, and it's really intimidating, and everyone I know who gets on that stage (except the one genuine sociopath whom I met once) is terrified. Everyone thinks they're the only ones who shouldn't be here. Everyone things they're the fraud, the idiot, the fool. Everyone: The heads of major companies, the artists you most admire, the fearless activists, the polar explorers, the researchers who are curing cancer and the physicists who are decoding our very universe. Be assured: I have spoken to lots of them, and right before they get on that stage, they are all shitting their pants. (And for weeks leading up to it too.)

But we do it anyhow. We lock our shaky knees and stand up there and share our ideas, our research, our dreams, our most vulnerable reveals.

Today I watched a beautiful woman (a model, actually) named Geena Rocero stand up on that stage and talk (for the first time in public) about how she had been born a boy, and about her early realization that she had accidentally been assigned the wrong gender — and what she did to remedy it and become the woman she always wanted to be. Even her modeling agent didn't know this secret about. It took incredible guts to share this. She got a giant standing ovation for it, too, after asking us "Will you accept me as I am?"

Which is the big question, of course, whenever we put ourselves out there.

Sometimes the answer is NO. If the answer was always YES, then it wouldn't be brave to ask the question, would it. So you kind of have to do it, anyhow, even with all the risk.

As I always say to myself right before I go on stage, "This is terrifying. But what else are you gonna do with your life, Liz? NOT speak?"

So. No choice but: ONWARD,

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall