Meet the Speakers: Dr. Michelle Yep Martin for TEDxWilmington
Fri. 17 August 2018
For 13 years I’ve talked about people who have sexually offended. I am cautious with people who ask, “What do you do for a living?” “I’m a psychologist,” I reply. “What population do you work with?” “People who have sexually offended.” Instantly conversations stop, someone makes “that” face, where your nose and forehead get scrunched as if you smelled something terrible.
I now tell people I work with sexual victimization, which garners less criticism, judgment, and comments about how a woman could choose to work with such a dangerous/disgusting/horrible population. What people believe is I side with offenders by offering treatment; I work with them because I like hearing their stories or have no problem with their choices.
The opposite is true. I choose to provide treatment to people who made terrible decisions, and who wish to not reoffend. I work with people who want to change the trajectory of their lives, even if they can’t change what they’ve done, they can ensure there will be no more victims. I choose to work to ensure there will be no more victims. No more victims. While not everyone has the constitution to listen to what I hear, I believe by taking on these stories and reframing them, I am helping to create a safer place for our children.
When I applied to TEDxWilmington, I was met not with disgust, but intrigue. They supported me and my idea. I am working hard to create a talk leading others to think, “What now?” What now indeed? How do we change something that we’ve seen so ingrained in our lives? I know I can change it in my own small corner of the world, but that’s not enough. We can see through the media and our own lives that’s not enough. So, what now?
the TEDx process: Dr. Michelle Yep Martin for TEDxWilmington
Wed. 29 August 2018
I knew this TEDxWilmington talk would be a lot of work; I didn’t realize how much I’d have to balance to accomplish everything and create an idea worth spreading. Three weeks ago, I had neurosurgery. Surgery isn’t fun, but this kind of surgery, the kind that puts you flat on your back, for weeks, leaving you feeling weak is not a surgery that someone who helps others for a living can tolerate.
I’ve been told the do’s and don’ts by the neurosurgeon, some directions I’ve followed, and some I haven’t. Not because I don’t want to heal, but it’s hard as the healer not to be healing. Having to force myself to slow down, to really look at what’s important in life, and ensure things that need to get done are accomplished when I have energy. I see this as a new challenge.
My TEDxWilmington talk is centered around caring for others. It’s meant to spread hope for a worldwide problem. I want it to resonate with people. I want people to walk away with hope: that they can change their lives, their decisions, their relationships. But to do that, I must take care of myself first, and that’s hard.
I’m lucky to be working with an amazing coach and have the blessing of feedback that is useful from the curating team. One day, I mentioned to someone that I wanted to just quit. Not the TEDxWilmington talk, but everything I was dealing with: pain, healing, itching, boredom. She asked me, “Criticism makes you want to quit?” My answer? “No, criticism and feedback help me grow, it’s what moves me forward.” If anything, criticism and feedback is what makes me want to do better. I want to get up on that TEDxWilmington stage and knock it out of the park.
Reflecting: Michelle Yep Martin for TEDxWilmington
Wed. 3 October 2018
There’s no way I can put into words what this experience is like, and I’m afraid by trying I’ll minimize.
Before the talk, there were times I thought to myself, “Who am I? Just some girl from Alaska who wants to talk to people about uncomfortable things. What makes me an expert? Why in the world would they pick me of all people?” Fear held me back a lot; I see that now. On rehearsal day I saw people on stage, running their talks, and everyone’s was powerful, and I’m thinking, “What am I doing here?!” Then I stepped on stage for rehearsal, and it felt better. I knew I’d prepared, I knew I had an idea worth spreading, something important that no one wants to talk about, but that we MUST talk about. I went back to the hotel, ran it once, and then let myself go to sleep. I was anxious, again, until I stepped up on stage. And then *blink* it was over, and I was stepping off stage to hugs and congratulations, and perhaps more important, people approaching me from the audience with genuine questions about how to help their sons, husbands, partners, families.
All I wanted was someone to connect with what I said. Of course, with the bravado that comes with stepping off stage and being done, came the idea of, “When can I do this again?!” I didn’t share with my husband right away though, because I think, at that point, he had had his fill of TEDx for a couple of days. I’ll broach the topic with him gently in a month or so after he’s had a great dinner and maybe just falling asleep, so I can casually mention it and he won’t even notice…. I think by starting with TEDxWilmington, I’ve been spoiled, because they were so organized, kind, generous, and incredibly supportive, and I’m sure it’s not like this anywhere else. So, to Ajit and his whole team – you are all amazing, wonderful, smart and incredible.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to push myself in this way.
7th Annual TEDxWilmington Conference // Thursday September 27th 2018