Be Truthful, Gentle, and Fearless

The title of this post is a quote from Gandhi. It’s a quote I saw on Pinterest at some point not too long ago, and it instantly inspired me. As most quotes do, this left me feeling introspective about what exactly these words meant to me. My interpretation and meaning may not be the same as yours, but that’s fine. That’s how these things work.

Truthfulness, to me, has a lot to do with vulnerability. I’m not always good at that. Acting and theatre were a huge part of my childhood and growing up. It’s no coincidence that I am comfortable with using acting as a safety net. Throughout my life, I’ve made it through social situations and meeting new people and surviving group projects by being a person that I knew would do well in the situation at hand. This has always left me feeling disconnected and distant from a lot of people I’ve met in my life. I still pick up on times that I’m doing it. It’s just this past year that I’ve really been feeling progress towards being myself regardless of what situations I find myself in. It’s made a big difference, and I’m really proud of myself for learning how to be truthful to myself. This may not have made much sense, but that’s okay.

Gentleness is often construed as an unhelpful quality, and we are told that we have to be tough to “make it” or that we need to pretend like nothing gets under our skin. Not caring has become regarded as being so  “cool” and nonchalant. Not caring has been praised, preached, and pretended. While there is certainly  something to be said about being resilient, I think there is an aversion or maybe even a stigma to caring too much about anything these days. In reality, what I really admire is people caring a whole darn lot. It’s brave. It’s inspiring. It’s passionate.

And, fearlessness? Where can that even fall into my normal life – I’m not a soldier or a missionary or a cutthroat journalist or a revolutionary.

I’m not used to thinking that fearlessness has ever really been a concept that I can play into my own life, especially not day-to-day. Sure, there may be plenty of things I’m scared of (disappointing people I love, intimidating professors, and the classic show-up-to-class-and-there’s-an-exam-I-knew-nothing-about nightmare), but what am I really fearful of? I think, at least at this point in my life, the things I really feel fearful about seem to be more abstract and unknown and undefined (maybe the abstract and unknown is scary itself).

My life is on the edge of, well, a lot. 2014 is one big, challenging, and momentous year for me. This year, I will be (somehow) making it through a semester with four 4-credit, writing-intensive courses; I will be graduating; I will be getting married (and planning the whole thing); I will be moving out of my parents’ place; I will be getting a new job (or two?); I will be apartment hunting in the fall for a second place for me to move to this year. The list can go on as long as I let it. There’s a lot that’s coming at me, whether I feel ready for it or not.

This past year, I’ve tried to become more open to being uncomfortable and being outside of my comfort zone. Looking at what I’ve been through in college, and the year ahead of me, I’m starting to think that life is just one big challenge of our comfort zones and limitations. In 2015, I’m sure there will be a whole slew of new decisions for me to make and things for me to adjust to. And the same in 2016. It’ll probably never end. Knowing this, accepting it, and standing up tall to face the challenge (even if I don’t “feel ready”) is what fearlessness means to me.

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