Today is a big day for Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts who is returning to the show after 174 days of recovery following her bone marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder. In addition to being a wonderful day for Robin, her family, friends, and co-workers, it is also a great day for all watching who have experienced something like that either themselves or with a loved one.
I am one of those people.
But before I got into my own personal story, something Robin said that jumped off the screen to me from the USAToday article that you can read here. She said:
“When you go through something like this you can be either fearful or fearless and I chose to be the latter.”
You can either be FEARFUL or FEARLESS. Powerful.
While Robin’s words can be seen as a direct reflection of how she stood up and faced her illness, I think her words are powerful beyond just that moment and can be applicable to us all. I believe she was very intentional in that regard. You know, my generation has had it pretty easy. As society evolves we live by the principles of making up the rules as we go, going against tradition when it doesn’t fit our outlook, and having access to safety nets that our predecessors couldn’t have, but created for us. That’s not to say that there isn’t struggle still in the world, and that our youth do not face turmoil, but we can laugh and joke about our “First World Problems” because sometimes they are in fact just that. Despite the comfort that we have been given there does come a time when we find ourselves at a crossroads faced with the decision to be fearful or fearless.
A good example would be the recent recession and the fallout as many of my generation now see ourselves saddled with student loan debt, useless degrees, and what we believe to be promises unfulfilled. As we look out into the horizon we don’t see the American Dream we once thought was easy to obtain just by following the formula (Education + more Education = $100k salary and a low-interest rate on a house complete with picket fence and dog), instead we see Sallie Mae and friends. This has forced many of us to answer the question “Will you be fearful or fearless?”
A number of my friends have realized that the formula doesn’t work for them. They realized that they weren’t built for the Corporate world, or they were tired of studying for Graduate program entrance exams for degrees they didn’t really want, or they were tired of the idea of making other people rich off their own blood, sweat, and tears. When they looked inside and asked themselves the above question, each of them chose to be fearless. As a matter of fact, my Fiancé recently had this same conversation with himself, and being the one that he chose to share his life with, I got to be a part of that. The Beau realized that he was not a worker bee. He has not worked his entire adult life (that started 16, my little Doogie Houser) building himself into a Man, a leader, and a young innovator to see his hard work pay someone else. He said to me, “I need to make this jump” and I replied to him, “It’s the only way that you’ll truly be able to fly.”
I truly believe that. Everything I’ve ever done worth doing, or had worth having, came with a sense of fear, nervousness, worry that it was going to be difficult and risky. Each and every time it absolutely was, but it was worth it. When I moved to Italy I didn’t even have an apartment. I had 3 days booked at a hotel and a desire to experience something new. I was terrified, but I landed in Milan, cried for a few minutes, then held my head up and powered forward. Success!
Like Robin Roberts, my friends have chosen to be fearless and for that I stay inspired. It doesn’t always have to be a big thing, it can be deciding to stand up for yourself in the office, defending your own ideas. It could be applying for that new stretch position. It could be picking up a new challenging hobby like running a marathon, or learning how to swim. Being fearless also doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect or completely successful at what you do. It’s taking that leap and giving it a shot. Even if you “fail” you learned a lesson that will be valuable for you the next time you’re faced with a challenge.
So congrats to Robin for choosing to be fearless and being an example to us all of “light, love, power, presence”. For showing us that you don’t always have to lay down and take the hand you’re dealt, but that you can have a choice.
So in true “I love my circle” fashion, I want to shout out some of my friends who are FEARLESS (not to say the rest of you aren’t!!!) and inspire me daily. Some of them have websites you should check out! My Fiancé/Attorney Sean Walton, Jr! My best friend and entrepreneurial restaurateur Ashley Cleveland. The great reality TV star/Tech Genius Willie Jackson. The knower of all things Wall Street/Main Street William Lumpkin. The creator of the PassportLife Project Kenji Summers. My political insider/jack of all trades Jenifer Moore. The Whipped Queen Lauren Wiley. My very own Dr. Taeyjuana Curry, Phd (IN PHYSICS). The next artist/painter you need to know Juana Bethel. The next best M.D. next to House Sophia Harvey. The Coolest Cool Kid I know James “Nudy” Marable.
That’s a long list, and I could keep going, but I just want those folks to know that I keep my eye on them, I cheer for them, and they inspire me to remain fearless.
Before I close I have to quickly mention my angel David Cummings. David fought cancer 3 times until it finally claimed his life and took him back home. I’ve never felt so hurt before to have someone taken from this world too soon. However, he exemplified living a fearless life. Thanks to David, I touched the Coliseum in Rome in his memory knowing that he had been there before too. Thanks to David I love J.Dilla and Little Brother, and music has different *feeling* for me. Thanks to David I have a circle of friends of which I share a special bond. So this is to him.