Joy McBrien
“How Women Rise”
2nd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen
Thursday November 2nd 2017
The Mill Auditorium  MORE INFO

Joy McBrien for TEDxWilmingtonWomen, TEDxWilmington, Wilmington Delaware

Photo: Alessandra Nicole for TEDxWilmington

I’ve been a dancer since 1st grade, so the stage has become somewhat of a second home to me. I’ve danced on stage thousands of times.  I know what it’s like to wait backstage in the wings, the butterflies that awake in your stomach, the feeling of a job well done or disappointment in your performance.

But I have never been so nervous to go on stage as I was to give my talk at TEDxWilmingtonWomen.

The week leading up to the talk, I was struck with overwhelming anxiety. I knew my talk backwards and forwards, but that didn’t calm my nerves.  I was terrified of two things:

  1. That my brain would render completely useless when I stepped on stage.
  2. What people would say in the YouTube comments about my talk.  Mainly, that trolls would discover the talk and start talking about “lie-spreading feminists” or worse, threaten violence on me, as I’ve been threatened many times before.

Standing up on that red dot was just as terrifying as I imagined it would be.  My fear of the red dot likely came from watching so many TED and TEDx talks in my life, and knowing the significance that this dot represents.

I was so worried that I wouldn’t do justice to the women’s stories that I represented, as well as my own, but seeing the audience fully engaged with me, hearing their gasps or giggles, I knew that they were along for the journey with me.  When I (finally!) got off that stage, I was proud of myself, how I performed, and that gave me the confidence to be less worried about what haters will eventually say on Youtube.

I am so grateful to have had this experience, expressing myself through words rather than dance on stage. While it was scary, it was totally worth it, and the challenge helped me grow in my healing journey as well.


Joy McBrien is a global learner who is passionate about creating opportunities for women and girls.  She is the Founder and CEO of Fair Anita, a social enterprise that strives to build a more inclusive economy for women by providing economic opportunity and dignified jobs through beautiful fair trade jewelry and accessories. She has worked with thousands of women around the world, using her empathetic nature to understand circumstances and develop creative solutions. READ MORE FROM JOY