When I was younger, I admired women who could confidently speak in front of a large group. I wondered how did they become that way? How are they so sure of themselves? How did they not care what others thought of them? How did they not worry about messing up? The bravery, the tenacity, was so intriguing to me.
I hoped one day I would be bold and fearless like that.
As a child, I grew up quickly. There were happy moments, but most of the time my brothers and I were dealing with a lot of instability in the home. I developed strength, courage, and determination during that time.
Anxiety began to rear its head during my teenage years- as it often does. I was not prepared to experience the pain of back stabbing, broken heart and body shaming. It seemed that everyday someone was critical of how I looked (or didn’t look), what I wore (or didn’t wear), what I ate (or didn’t eat), what I said (or didn’t say). It not only came from peers, but also teachers, coaches, and parents. I started to see how quickly my friends would turn on me if it meant being included in another group. I didn’t understand this.
I was involved in extracurricular activities as well as leadership roles at church and school. I was on homecoming court and other visible positions. I realized that one of the main reasons people were so critical of me was because I was putting myself in the public arena. As strong and tenacious as I was, the weight of criticism was too heavy for my mind and heart to process. I stopped participating in activities and serving in leadership roles. I no longer ran for school positions. I adjusted my high school schedule so I only had to be at school half a day. I figured if I were seen less, people would talk about me less.
I internalized many thoughts and emotions.
Throughout college, I remained under the radar. While my girlfriends were off at bigger schools, getting into sororities, meeting new people, and having a blast, I stayed in a small, safe and predictable bubble.
Early in my professional career, I applied for positions that I was over-qualified for, and often settled for lower salaries. Although I progressed in the workplace quickly and developed lucrative talents and skills, I still wasn’t comfortable putting myself out there or assuming a leadership role.
BOLD AND FEARLESS: BECOMING REACQUAINTED WITH MYSELF
It took several years of consistent hard work, ups and downs, failures and successes, to rediscover my value and regain the confidence I had lost.
Since then, I’ve had hundreds if not thousands of experiences that have inspired me to live boldly, including losing loved ones, a divorce, finding new love, miscarriage, moving to another state, losing friends, and having three children of my own.
My life was transformed when I realized it was a waste of time to evaluate my worth based on the opinion of others who I barely knew. Once I realized that my worth was no longer tied to acceptance of others- or any accomplishment; and that my worth was tied to something much bigger – a bigger purpose- a bigger story, I was free.
HOW TO LIVE A BOLD AND FEARLESS LIFE
Through my experiences, I’ve learned a few things about how to live a bold and fearless life.
1. Stop giving a damn about what others think of you.
What could you accomplish if you didn’t give a damn about others opinion of you? I mean, really. You could accomplish amazing things.
There are only a handful of people who I trust and who’ve earned the right to be in my life. They love me and only want the best for me. Their opinions are the only ones that matter.
2. Don’t listen to gossip.
It will either be untrue, unproductive, or both. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your inner voice. Trust your voice.
3. Let go of your status.
Status is pure ego and part of what other people think of you. Your status isn’t based on anything real; it’s just perception. Stop living for others perception of you.
4. Be real.
Be authentic, scared and vulnerable… and show up anyway. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of being real is the greatest act we can do for one another. People identify with those who are real.
5. Fail and fail often.
Failure is the pathway to success. Failure builds character. Failure leads to the freedom of knowing your own strength and abilities. Failure is necessary for growth.
6. Challenge the status quo.
Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and speak your mind. Let others know what you’re all about. Also, try something different. You may look stupid, inexperienced, fumbling, or vulnerable – but it doesn’t matter. People will forget your foolishness long before you do. They are far more interested in themselves!
Share your story. Share with someone who will respond with empathy and understanding. That connection will be powerful. It will transform your life.
8. Think big.
Expect to succeed. Believe it will happen. Don’t think small and safe. Work towards an extraordinary life; it is absolutely possible.
Action is the greatest cure for fear. Decide what you want to achieve and start doing the work. Action is more powerful than great books, great blogs, great motivational speakers, or great plans. Even when you are in a slump or feel afraid, just do something.
10. It’s okay to accept where you are today.
Just because you want to make improvements in your life doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful right now. Take your time. It’s your journey. Don’t compare it to someone else’s.
IT’S UP TO US TO EMBRACE OUR BOLD AND FEARLESS US
Isn’t it funny how life twists and turns, and all that time you spent living small and under the radar, you eventually come back to the person you were meant to be? It’s like our heart and intuition already knew what we wanted to become, and was patiently waiting for us. We just had to get to a place where we were ready to embrace it.
Ultimately, I have this one life, and it will come to an end on some real day in the future. What’s the point of living in fear of what others think of me? There are things to do, children to raise, people to help, and a purpose to fulfill.
Living boldly and fearlessly is the only way I want to live.
We are all born with confidence, but over time we seem to lose it. We should all strive to be that little girl who dares greatly! (with my sweet grandaddy who we lost in ’05)
High school friends at my 16th birthday party.
New love after heartbreak.
Chris and I lost our first baby soon after this picture was taken.
Got my Series 7, 66, insurance and Wealth Strategist designations for work. It’s natural for me to hustle. To work harder than anyone else around me. To find my value in titles or designations. But over time, I have learned that my value isn’t tied to accomplishments or work. It’s not a good way to live.
Chris and I always try to teach our kids they can do anything… to be bold and strong. Taking risks are so important if you want to live fearlessly!