TED Talks for Every Occasion

There are so many things that I can’t stand about growing up in the era of technology-based learning. From distracting Snapchat and iMessage notifications streaming in as I study my ebook giving me that oh so familiar screen-induced headache, to the red  bolded letters stating “TURNED IN LATE” after turning in the group project that I’ve agonized over (conducted strictly over GroupMe, of course) one minute past the 11:59pm deadline.

There are certainly upsides of course. The Quizlet sets that contain the exact questions and answers on a practice test, the brainiacs that walk through entire AP Chem equations on Yahoo Answers, and above all: TED Talks. Even the dullest of professors and most irritating of teachers can pique my interest and win me over by uttering the words, “We’re going to watch a TED talk today.” I’ve had TED Talks used as teaching tools in every education setting you can imagine: an ethics course, a business living learning center meeting, a high school English class, and many more.

I love watching these videos because the people who present at TED conferences aren’t just there to share their expertise, they’re there to share their story. Below are four different moments and moods I’ve found myself in during the past year and the TED talks I wish I would have watched then.


Anne Lamott from TED.com

12 Truths I’ve Learned from Life and Writing

“Chocolate with 75 percent cacao is not actually a food” -Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is a novelist, non-fiction writer, mother, grandmother, recovering alcoholic, and one funny-as-heck lady. Using her own life experience, her faith in God, and some light comedy, Lamott shares what she knows to be true about this wild and crazy life. She is smart, sassy, and tells it like it is. Listening to this woman is like getting a hug from your feisty and strong grandma.


Lidia Yuknavitch from TED.com

The Beauty of Being a Misfit

“I’m a card-carrying misfit. And I’m here for the other misfits in the room, because I’m never the only one.” -Lidia Yuknavitch

I believe no matter how bad my day has been, listening to Lidia Yuknavitch tell her story can remind me that I have value and I can create good in the world. Yuknavitch seems to have gone down every dark and difficult path on her journey to who she is today. A swimmer turned writer and public speaker, she has led a most interesting life so far and is teeming with wisdom because of it. She lets you know that there will always be someone, somewhere, who will listen to your story.


Brenè Brown from TED.com

The Power of Vulnerability

“They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be” -Brené Brown

Brené Brown is the type of gal who loves things to fit perfectly into the boxes they are meant to be in, but as with most things in life, social work (her field of expertise) doesn’t work like that. The whole premise of this talk is ironic since Brown avoids vulnerability at all costs, but her work lead her directly to it. It’s all about courage, whole-heartedness and getting comfortable with discomfort.



Your Elusive Creative Genius

“Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to have any success? Aren’t you afraid the humiliation of rejection will kill you?”  -Elizabeth Gilbert

This one really hits home for me because of my passion for the arts and my hope to one day go into the theatre world professionally. I can’t even count the nights I fell asleep this past year to the question “what do I want to do with my life??” on an endless loop in my mind. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love perfectly packages late night qualms into a talk discussing the fear, anxiety, and destruction associated with creativity. My main take away from this one: don’t be afraid to do what you love.

I hope that you enjoyed these four videos as much as I did. There are so many amazing talks out there and I’d love to hear about the ones that inspire you!

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