by Marci Narum
Dan's Note: Marci Narum is one of the most well-adjusted, confident people I know. I write this with the knowledge that now, after having read her contribution, that EVERYONE seems to have their own demons they fight. At the very least, her story is a witness to the fact that none of us NEED to listen to the negative messages inside us. My wife Carol and I met Marci when we first moved to North Dakota while I served as an intern at First Lutheran Church in Bismarck. At the time, her TV career was only beginning to take off. Just a few years after that, she would become the "Katie Couric" of North Dakota as the headlining anchor for the NBC morning show in ND.
Our paths only recently crossed again on social media, where I reconnected with her. We had a nice phone conversation after I had invited her to write a contribution on Transformation is Real. I was surprised to hear that she was—thoroughly and utterly—revamping her life to realize her lifelong aspiration to become an inspirational speaker. I can't say I'm surprised ... she's one of those people who knows what real transformation takes: the courage to face your fears and dive headlong into whatever the future might bring. My utmost admiration to you, Marci!
I had a secret for many years…
It was for most of my life, really. And I thought it was one that no one could possibly understand or accept if they learned all that was going on inside me.
I was wrong.
It turns out many people understand my secret…struggle with it themselves in fact.
I share my secret with you in the hope that someone who is experiencing something similar will find encouragement.
I was 9 years old when I started public speaking through a program in my county 4-H club. My mom was my first coach.
My first speech was a demonstration of “Triple Orange Treat.” My very first contest earned me the Grand Champion ribbon. That was just the beginning of a successful speaking career as a young girl and teenager. I enjoyed it and I was good at it.
When I was twelve, I experienced what I believe was a vision. I remember very clearly the moment as I sat listening to a speaker at a youth gathering. The “vision” was something inside of me saying, “That is what you could do someday . . . you have a message that is meaningful to people. It's something you can share on stage as an inspirational speaker and really make a difference in their lives."
That vision I experienced was like a gift. But it was a gift that I wrapped up inside a box, tucked away in the back corner of a dark closet, and closed the door.
Instead I began telling myself another message: “That will never happen. What would you have to say that anyone would care about? You don’t have what it takes. You will never be good enough.”
I repeated those negative messages to myself for 30 years. Some others were worse. Much worse.
Still, I continued to work on my public speaking through 4-H, my high school speech team, and into college, where I chose to study broadcasting.
My intention was to work in radio, but I got a part-time job at a local TV station working behind the scenes—operating the studio cameras and shooting sports highlights. Television news had never really interested me, but that job provided countless opportunities for me to learn more about broadcasting. Eventually I was reporting news—doing interviews, writing stories and editing video.
And then something really big happened.
It was an opportunity that any other young college student would jump at: a chance to anchor the news. But not me. The news director asked me to fill in for the weekend anchor. I wanted nothing to do with being in front of a studio camera. I was planning to work in radio broadcasting, not TV!
The negative messages I told myself got louder.
“YOU WILL MESS UP AND LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT! YOU DON’T LOOK LIKE A NEWS ANCHOR! YOU WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH.”
My secret—that I lacked self-worth and confidence—haunted me daily. It haunted me for years. I spiraled into depression—multiple times. This, to me, was also a dirty little secret. I would put on a happy face when I was with friends, family, and co-workers, but the moment I was alone I would self-destruct in fits of rage and crying. I felt a heavy burden of shame, self-condemnation, anxiety and fear. The depression sapped my energy and I had excruciating headaches. I experienced very dark days. On the darkest days, I would have been grateful to be free of the pain that comes with depression.
By my mid-20s, I could no longer keep the secret. I needed to get help for my depression. I’m 44 now, and grateful to be keenly aware of what might trigger it, and how to respond accordingly. I take care of myself. I have a healthy sense of self-worth and confidence—as a Child of God.
I no longer allow the negative messages to have a place in my mind or self-talk.
When they do happen to creep in, I replace them. I discovered it’s not possible to have a positive life if you have a negative mind.
As for that vision I had when I was twelve—I believe deeply that it has stayed with me all these years for a reason. I enjoyed 21 years in TV news, most of them at a news anchor. But I left the anchor desk in 2014 and began pursuing my life’s work as a professional speaker. My secret—and the transformation I experienced—is part of the meaningful message I share with audiences because I have learned that the more I talk about it, the more people I meet who have had very similar experiences.
I believe we are called to share our gifts with each other, and for some of us, that means sharing our stories.
I hope mine helps you.
About the Author
Marci was raised on a dairy farm near Douglas, North Dakota. She is a 1989 graduate of Garrison High School, and holds a BA in Broadcasting from Minot State University. She graduated in 2002 from the Bismarck-Mandan Leadership Program. She's a member of the National Association of Professional Women, and also the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce. She is a Bronze-level Accomplished Toastmaster.
Marci is married to Jim Silrum, the North Dakota Deputy Secretary of State. They live in Mandan with their miniature dachshunds—9-year old Mickey and 11-year old Sophie.
Marci is a consultant, professional speaker, and leadership coach with Take 21. She is a certified team member of John Maxwell, an internationally-recognized expert in leadership. She is currently completing courses to become a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach. Marci helps companies avoid the high cost of turnover and keep their most valuable employees by strategically and intentionally developing stronger teams and individuals though trust-based leadership. She helps clients understand their talents and how to use them to produce results and reach their potential.
Marci also shares her 21-years of experience in TV news as a media relations consultant. She provides her clients with tips and techniques for developing and fostering relationships with media, identifying what is newsworthy, and how to communicate with and through the media clearly, concisely and comfortably.
Take 21 is a parallel calling to Marci's first endeavor as an entrepreneur. She is the owner of Leaving Impressions, Inc. a creative art business in which she combines the wisdom of words with the beauty of nature in framed creations. Her creations include preserved and embellished leaves, feathers, or heads of wheat, paired with a message of inspiration or scripture.