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.

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Some things change…and some never do.

What tales these tell...

I was an avid journaler as a kid. Journals, diaries, whatever you want to call it, I kept it. I started with a tiny pink one with bears on it that had a lock and key. The entries were of the “Today, I …” sort. In middle school, I moved on to bigger books with no lock, even though the words carried more emotion, drama and secrets. Through high school and partway into college, I filled three more journals, my handwriting improving from those formative cursive-style days to a hurried, but focused combination with print, the color of the ink settling on black or blue only, the stickers and doodles disappearing one by one.

My journaling is now more or less this blog, and although I still write about very personal issues, I can’t help but notice the changes over time between those secretive, scribbled escapist entries on paper, and these well-thought out yet similarly emotional typed essays — and the differences.

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What do you want to do?

As a kid, we were endlessly asked by parents, teachers, friends and grandma what we wanted to be when we grew up. Back then, it was easy: a firefighter! a ballerina! In my case, a writer. As we grew older, the question still lingered, but the answer wasn’t always so simple. The one or two-word career we dreamed about wasn’t going to just poof! appear on a business card all ready for us to hand out. For some people, it’s because their dream career is unrealistic, too expensive, or too hard. But for some of us, that dream is still alive, but now, the question is more about how do we fit that into the rest of our lives? Too bad we can’t have it as easy as dogs: wake up, eat, poop, sleep, do it all over again. What a life!

What's all the fuss about?

We get boyfriends, girlfriends, rent payments. Our chosen field is suddenly not the best to enter into in bad economic times and changing technologies (newspaper reporter, anyone?). Suddenly, it’s not just about picking something and being it – and that age-old question of “what do you want to do?” is constantly staring us in the face, making us impatient, causing us to hem and haw over our every decision.

Four years ago, I didn’t know what exactly I would be doing, or where I would be. I just knew that I wanted to be writing, and living in a fun place (Chicago, DC, NYC, etc.). When I decided to graduate early and get a head start on life, I had only starting dating my boyfriend a week before. A boyfriend who was headed to law school, so that already meant long times ahead. Four years ago, I didn’t really have a plan, for once in my life, except to go do something I loved, and I figured the rest would come along.

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Remember when?

This weekend my best friend from back home in Ohio came up from Georgia to spend time with me, after I was having an rough time earlier in the week. I didn’t have to ask – when I called her late Monday night, upset, she immediately said, “I’m coming up there.”

Molly is getting married next year, and lives with her fiance in a new house with a dog and a cat. We’re both working adults, with significant others, and deal with the everyday problems of being an adult. But this weekend we did what we always do – spent hours looking at old yearbooks, prom photos, and recalling ridiculous adventures, ridiculous former crushes, and marveling at how everything back then seemed simpler yet so dramatic all at once. And, we of course had chili pies and Soft Batch cookies, in a toast to many late night sleepovers back in Loveland.

Today Molly will go back to her life and I will go back to mine. She will anxiously await to know the date that her fiance deploys to Iraq, and cuddle with her Great Dane, Spirit. I will plan my meals for one, look forward to my nightly phone calls with my boyfriend, starting his third and final year of law school, and worry about what the next year has in store. It may be months again before we see each other, but we are only a phone call and a drive away. Just like the old days.