Fearless

kalyanvarma_lion_walking_africaCan you recall a memory when you were fearless? A moment in time without hesitation; an experience or endeavor commanded through audacity but advanced through ambition? Consider a time where you made a choice to be truly fearless. Not because life forced you into a corner, but because you made the choice to not let an emotion dictate the outcome of a given situation or season.

Often when we hear the word fearless we equate its meaning to an individual, aspiration, or experience. When presented with distress we often riddle through our mind and find the perfect explanation as to why our fear is logical. We have all observed someone that appears fearless on the surface correct? In my life a few individuals immediately come to mind.

1.) My parents – They have been taking risks long before I was able to acknowledge them as risk takers. Not only have they taken on opportunities with endless financial uncertainty, they have also taken countless risks on people society may not wish to “deal with” otherwise. As their daughter I have often been on the receiving end of advice I did not ask for, you know, because they are my parents. A younger Anna would roll her eyes and discard about 50% of what was offered up. However, after a heavy dose of humility and hard experiences I am constantly tuned in to receive their advice at every occassion. In this example I encourage you to find fearlessness through humility. Be present, observe those who go after life instead of responding to life as it comes to them, and never discard advice from a wise person.

2.)  My Brother- The truth is, both of my brothers are fearless. For the purpose of this discussion, however, I want to point to my eldest brother. On the surface it is a simple response when I’m prompted as to his whereabouts. He is a Captain in the Army, and working through residential training to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. He is waste deep in research and has achieved opportonuites to be published in various medical  articles thus advancing his career. Though I am very proud of his accomplishments I am more proud of the hurdles he has faced with fearlessness. When he was rejected by the Air Force for a medical school scholarship he turned around the next day and applied with the Army. Less than a month later he was the only one of hundreds of applicants to be given full tuition through medical school. I have watched him go after life with a  fearlessness that is rooted deep in the person he has chosen to become. He is confident enough to be the guy you want operating on you, but humble  enough that there is a reverence for the preciousness of life that leaves him vulnerable to fail at any moment. His fearlessness comes in valuing human life enough to sacrifice his own for 12 plus years, only to tend to the most life threatening   and fragile of circumstances. He has instilled in me an understanding that  countless individuals have faced their fears as a means of giving hope to those of us who need their gifts. Be fearless because what you have to offer others depends on it.

3.) Memo and Renay– Memo and Renay operate an orphanage out of Mexico that services the physical, mental, and emotional needs of children. I have great respect for these individuals as I have witnessed the sacrifice of leaving behind what is comfortable and submitting to a life surrendered. More importantly they have created an environment where children can leave their fear, pain, and rejections at the door. Through their willingness to move boldly and fearlessly they continue to plant seeds of hope in the hearts of children that have experienced unimaginable hurt. In many ways I see this couple as far more fearless than anyone I have had the privilege of knowing. Often it is nice to think about sacrifice, to romanticize what it could produce, to wonder what you “might,” offer someone who needs your gift; but to act on sacrifice, and to do so with a heart of service, takes true courage. Memo and Renay didn’t wake up fearless. In fact I’m sure they know better than most what true fear of failure feels like, but, somewhere along the way (maybe many times along the way) they have chosen not to give into fear. In this way they have set a new standard for what it means to live fearlessly. Had they not moved forward because of a feeling, countless needs that they are gifted and equipped to handle would remain unmet.

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In the wake of an increasing need for me to push my own fears aside and go forth in pursuit of utilizing my gifts these examples (and many others) inspire me to push fears of failure aside. They have taught me that fearlessness isn’t a characteristic or personality trait. It isn’t as though some of us are immune to fear while others whither behind the barriers of our mind. They have taught me that yearning to see the fruition of purpose does not eliminate fear but it does change how much fear is allowed to control us. You don’t have to be business owners, surgeons, or head off an orphanage to live fearlessly. Start small; build yourself in the direction of your dreams with diligence and humility. Give your ability to make decisions more power than you give your emotions the right to leave you wavering. My greatest fear is that I will settle as unused potential, limited by fear. For this reason I will continue to break apart fear in every season, moving toward life with intention.

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Divide and Conquer

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I have started and stopped this entry more times than I care to count. Less so in lack of things to say but rather the fear that what I say will be misheard, misrepresented, and misconstrued. In lieu of last nights results I have watched at least half of the United States fall apart. Disdain, disgust, and shock swept through the homes of citizens as we watched the candidate who went from being a glorified joke with no political experience defeat a woman with 30 years of experience.

Before I continue let me be clear about something, because I know a fair amount of you clicked on this just to find out who I supported/didn’t support in this election. I will not say, and I should not need to say. It is not for you to know, and if you know me you do not need to inquire anyways. The only thing that telling strangers who you supported accomplishes is a swift kick of judgment from the opposing party. That being said, I will continue.

You could chalk this result up a million different ways, but no matter how you chalk it up, do not dehumanize others in the exercise of processing it. “Well, Trump dehumanized everyone! Do you know the things he has said?”…

Yes. I’m well aware. We all are. No one of us has escaped the divisiveness of this election. I think this result is interesting in the sense of basic math. Look around folks, at your friends, your family, and respected/well rounded individuals in your community; at least a few of these individuals that you know and love voted Trump in this election.

Furthermore, I believe this election was largely underestimated, as the majority of Trump voters were closet Trump voters. People felt backed into a corner in choosing one of the two worst candidates our country as ever been presented with, and yes, I HEAR you…Trump took things to another level. His character, and his statements are without exception horrid. Contrarily, Hillary embodied the establishment in every way regardless of your personal opinion of her ability to be presidential. The DNC pushed her in, came unprepared, and underestimated Trump. For goodness sakes man was given every media platform in the country for a year. He was the center of everyone’s attention regardless of political affiliation. What was the loss for Trump? He has other people running his company, more press time than any businessman could pay for, and traveled in a jet all over the world propping himself into a media storm. He bypassed 16 running mates with ease, divided the Republican Party, and evoked a voice of opposition to rhetoric that enticed millions of voters as the lesser of two evils. The man had nothing to lose, and now he will hold the Presidency.

But let’s take Trump out of the equation for a moment. The Internet is a playground where cowards tearing into each other are the norm with or without politics. It is a place where everyone is saying something but very few are really listening. There is nothing you can say with haste that is going to stop my world even if I agree with you whole-heartedly. The truth is, you just open the doors for people to see you as immature, on the verge of a stroke, and unable to interface your opinions without also needing to dehumanize an individual or group in the process. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not talking about the occasional vocalization of frustration and/or disagreement. I’m referring to those whose life depends on letting you know how right or wrong you really are, and if you’re wrong, you are nothing short of a piece of shit.

Thanks. That helps everyone.

Jumping back to the election hear this:

  • You have every right to be upset
  • You have every right to vocalize your disappointment
  • You don’t have to “just get over it”
  • You are allowed to process it

It’s been an intense, unruly, and disappointing election in more than one way. We aren’t going to just ease out of this. I’m not suggesting we all act like little angels who don’t have emotions, but I also do not believe that rioting, dehumanizing, chastising, or making generalizations about populations that may or may not be responsible for this outcome. Everyone went in a booth, everyone voted, and while you can clearly define what the majority feels you cannot insist on isolating every single individual to a piece of shit. Not in this election, and not with the amount of turbulence in our social framework. You may hate it, but it is true. This election brought the worst out to play on both sides from start to finish.

Going one step further I want to insist that now more than ever you be purposeful in not just saying something on social media, but doing something. Whatever convictions you have for social justice, wherever your desire to see social and cultural change, get up and go do something. History has proven time and time again that the most precedent movements of change began with small groups of dedicated individuals. Quit hash tagging about social progressions however you define them and go BE progressive. Technology can create conversation, it can create trends, and it can build alliances of conviction but it is not a substitute for real time. Whether it is at the local, regional, state, national or international level go where your conviction takes you. The government isn’t going to do it for you, and the Internet isn’t going to do it for you. We can preach tolerance and love from anywhere in the world through our screens but our screens will never act on tolerance and love. If this election has taught me anything it is that tolerance is limited. As long as tolerance fits your model, you will tolerate it.
The truth is nothing about this election brought me pride. Division ran ramped throughout the entire process, and, in our attempt to proudly exclaim our country devoid of being as ugly as our candidates we have only reaffirmed that we are. I’m not happy with the outcome, many of you who voted Trump are not happy with the outcome, and yet here we are. I am not suggesting I know the best way a country transitions into a Trump presidency. I am not suggesting you aren’t allowed to have emotion and express those emotions, but I am suggesting we not let one person divide and conquer.