Words by Tias Kidung (Batch 4 – Malang)

Jakarta, November 14, 2015.

XL Future Leaders National Conference. 10 pm.

I was sitting on my chair in the middle of a big crowd, 150 students to be exact. I was busy with my thought. I was a bit nervous. A voice came to my mind, “They are amazing and you are nothing”.

The awardees were challenged for 10 hour-critical-thinking game. Throughout the game, I could see how smart they were, how well they were engaging with the surrounding and the problems. They had guts to speak up in English, and for sure way better than me, so fluent!

I was grilled; I felt that I didn’t belong to this crowd. That situation made me down, even kept me in silent. I forgot why my mouth felt like it was locked. I was forced to feel so small by myself; I was drowning with the fact that my English ability was so beginner. I disliked my weakness. But I couldn’t do more about it at that time.

If I have to ask myself now, how long that feeling played in me, I will be in shock!

It haunted me for 11 months! Even though I was trying to improve myself during the coming workshops, that feeling existed until the day before my 5th workshop at XLFL.

My friends and I were assigned to do a TED style talk, in English, no doubt. While my problem was still the same, I wasn’t that good, I was a beginner. I had my practices days before the workshop days came.

I even forced myself to have a practice in front of my mentor, so, I came to meet her the day before. Fortunately, she was accompanied by two other friends; one of them was a 17-year-old boy, way younger than me.

My mentor put him there on purpose. She asked him to listen and watch our presentations. When my turn was done, this boy said, “You’re ordinary, because you were just reading”.

That was enough to make me shocked, felt ashamed. Those words squeezed my heart. Yes, it was short but it was definitely sharp.

If my mentor says sharp and a lot, I have a lot of respect. She is a mentor. But this was different. This came from someone I didn’t even expect to say that.

“If this boy wasn’t impressed, then how on earth others would be attracted by my speech?”

That thought led me to think that I had to forget all of the script that I had made. I decided to speak much freely, much more natural. Not just a merely a memorization that kept me busy thinking than focusing on what was important to say.

Feeling down, I fixed the slides that I was going to use, practiced again and again, and then prepared for my bed. It was late already, but I had to get my energy back for my day one workshop. I pushed hard to put a big trust on myself. I whispered to my-sleepy-self that I could do talk tomorrow.

I kept in mind that I had to speak. Well, not just speaking but speaking with confidence and purpose. Surprisingly, I nailed it! I managed to speak! I was really speaking, not merely saying something that I memorized before. It came out and sounded more natural. I was happy and I really appreciated myself. For me, it was a big improvement!

That experience taught me a lot. I have learned that I have to trust myself and be brave. It was really pushing me forward, it was indeed memorable. My awesome fifth XLFL Workshop. I became braver and more confidence to speak in front of bigger audience. I started to enjoy what I got from XL Future Leaders. By time, they help me gaining my personal branding as well. Even I keep getting opportunities to be a speaker in some events.

XL Future Leaders has shaped me up to be who I am today. It didn’t stop when I graduated from it. I am still that student who is now hunger for next level learning.

So, what about you? What’s your XLFL story? What’s your XLFL future story? Dare to improve yourself and apply the program?