Being true to one’s authentic self requires transparency, honesty, and vulnerability. All three of these points were driven home among poignant, dramatic, and deeply personal talks given by dating expert Hayley Quinn, wellness educator Emily Nagoski, and LGBTQ supporter Emily Reese at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2016. Tying these stories together, Jon Foreman also delivered a poetic call to action when he made statements in-between his singing performances like “there is a song inside of you, an anthem in your chest,” and “have the courage to live your melody.”
Hayley Quinn is the UK’s leading Dating Expert and has helped hundreds of thousands of men and women re-think their love lives: she is a believer in the idea that you do not need to change who you are to find love. In sharing her own personal experiences of dating and heartbreak, she mused: “Love can be beautiful, exciting, and completely escapist … (but) maybe people aren’t approaching love in the right way, as we continue to chase love.” As a popular vlogger with past experience working in the pick-up industry, armed with a degree in English and Psychoanalysis, Hayley has been a featured expert for numerous international TV shows and has also written for Cosmopolitan, the Independent, and the Telegraph. After experiencing a significant break-up and subsequently a heartbreaking miscarriage, Hayley decided to put the brakes on the dating scene and set aside some time for self-reflection. In this space, in which she coined herself as “the artist formerly known as the UK’s leading dating expert Hayley Quinn,” she picked up some important lessons, which ultimately helped to reinforce her expertise. “Real love is self-love,” she stated. “Live in the here and now, become more self-aware. Go meditate, get therapy, read a book.” In other words, while dating can be fun and exhilarating, it’s important to not lose yourself in the process and remember to always stay true to yourself.
According to Emily Nagoski, PhD, a popular Wellness Education Director and Lecturer at Smith College where she teaches Women’s Sexuality, “confidence is knowing what’s true, and joy is loving what’s true.” In her talk she discussed the importance of loving yourself, being comfortable with who you are, and generally mastering sexual well-being through a high energy and comically delivered performance. As the author of three guides for Ian Kerner’sGoodInBed.com, and also the author of the popular sex blog, TheDirtyNormal.com, Emily drove home the messages that “you are normal” and that “all sex is normal.” She gave everyone in the audience the homework assignment of going home, standing in front of a mirror naked, and then writing everything down that you like about yourself. Her message underscored Hayley’s points about the importance of being comfortable with who you are.
In a final talk from high school English teacher and mother of three, Emily Reese, we learned about the importance of not only re-defining love, but practicing selfless love. Nine years into a marriage and three children later, what’s a woman to do when she finds out that her husband is gay? Having been raised in a traditional Midwest family, Emily looked forward to having her white picket fence dream after college when she first settled down with her hard working husband. But when suspicions of cheating arose in the marriage, she was soon faced with a truth she wasn’t prepared for: that her husband was gay. After divorcing, she set upon a mission of deeply exploring her own self to the core. At one point in her talk she pointed to her ex-husband in the audience, and tears welled in her eyes. Today she runs a blog called SameSides, seeking to encourage straight spouses who find themselves in unique and unmapped territory, and supports LGBTQ people to live an honest and authentic life, so that other people don’t get unwillingly pulled into a situation that causes tremendous pain.
In closing, what better way than to end this six-post event wrap up summarizing key themes and statements from TEDxUniversityofNevada with a call to action in the form of lyrics from one of the songs performed live by Jon Foreman entitled: “Dare You To Move.” Listen to this song and hear his full talk entitled “Live Your Song” in the video below.