Defining Fearless

Ready to take a swing at the world!

A few weeks ago I shared a post from my friend Lauree to kick off my personal series on being fearless, taking inspiration from my organization’s commitment to the movement. You’ll be seeing more from my friends in coming months, but for now, I wanted to share my own thoughts on what it has meant to Be Fearless for me in the past, what it means now, and what it could mean in the future.

As a little girl, I jumped into the swamps of Louisiana without a care for the alligators and snakes that could bite or kill me. I wanted to ride the boat or the jet ski or the bumper cars or four wheeler faster and farther. I loved playing hide and seek in the dark with my cousins in the old barns and sugarcane fields.

As I grew older, I learned not to jump in the swamp anymore, and became terrified of things like haunted trails, but I did them anyway. I jumped at loud noises, but still wanted to ride the fastest and highest roller coasters. I tried different sports, but wasn’t fierce about any, even when I thought basketball was life. I was more into living vicariously through the characters in my novels, like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables, or Anne Frank. The most fearless thing I did in high school was deciding that I wanted to be adopted by my (then) stepdad. It was the best decision I ever made.

In college, I went skydiving my freshman year. I broke all the rules I had abided by growing up — stayed out late, partied, slacked on studying at times. In junior year, I started dating the quiet guy from my freshman dorm that had become my best friend. Right before junior year ended, I decided I was going to finish school a semester early. That led to me making a decision in early 2007 to move to DC, with no job, not much in my bank account, and only knowing one friend. It was the second best decision I ever made.

Near the swamp, not in the swamp.

Five years later, I’m on my third job, I’ve made friends, lost friends, and lost love. But I also went on some great trips, challenged myself physically (surfing! half marathons!), and professionally. Although some of these changes and experiences were painful, they were also fearless for me, and for who I was at the time. In the end, they were the best decisions for me, because I took risks, I wasn’t afraid to fail, and I was dreaming big about who I could be. Collectively, they have brought joy and satisfaction to my life.

So what now? What’s next? How do I continue my journey to Be Fearless in a way defines it for me — not for anyone else? I’ll keep riding roller coasters, I’ll run a marathon, I’ll speak in front of hundreds of people. I’ll tell people how I feel, even if I may get hurt. I may move again, or start an entirely new career. I will love again, and likely lose again. But I’ll also gain something from each and every choice, and as long as I do, then I’ll keep being fearless.

Penny for your thoughts?

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