Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi

I had a post completely planned out. Honest, I did. I was suppose to start writing it right after dinner and all would be wrapped up before 8pm tonight. Then I started thinking about the theme of the post and possible names. I will put this out there now, Stranger: the theme for this post is that being afraid, while it can keep us from being hurt, also has an incredible ability to limit our life experiences and opportunities. Naturally (for me anyway), I thought about the quote “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” Which then got me to thinking about my favorite movie of all time, The Princess Diaries. Sidenote: this is actually my favorite movie. It’s not like when someone asks  you what your favorite book is and you have to think for a moment and end up saying, “Oh, I don’t know. There are just so many good ones and I can’t think of it right now.” 10/10 times if someone asks me what my favorite movie is I will say The Princess Diaries, even now at 21. For my 18th birthday I got a tattoo that actually says “Courage is not the absence of fear…” so yeah, I love this movie and would consider it my greatest tool for surviving any and all angst I had growing up. Anyway, I ended up watching the entire thing just now and reciting every line and now I’m even more inspired. Onward we shall tread.

As I’ve alluded to and stated recently, I am going away to Australia in less than a month. Because I will be abroad, I have to make preparations for the summer now. At Bowdoin they really want you to succeed (which I love) but there is also an immense amount of pressure to always be doing something that will advance your career so students are always scrambling around to find the perfect internship. Last summer I didn’t have a journalism internship so this summer I have to find one and I started off the process in a state of fear as a result. What’s crazy is that there are so many levels of fear that I was experiencing.

First and most obvious: fear of rejection. Now I have applied for some pretty big internships in the past and got rejected. I think what was scaring me, however, is that I wasn’t sure if I could handle more rejection this year. It’s amazing how experiences with your friends and loved ones can carry over into every aspect of your life. I had been rejected by so many people in 2014 and 2015. My parents, my brother, guys, girlfriends, everyone. You name a relationship, I was rejected by someone who I share that relationship with. It made me scared. I knew, or rather I thought I knew, that if or when I got rejected, I would take it very personally because of my past these last couple years.

Another level of fear was that of making the wrong choice. Last summer I applied for a marketing position and the volunteering job I eventually picked. It got to the point when I had to pick between the two and while I don’t regret that choice, it wasn’t easy (I loved my job last summer. It has opened so many doors and I have made so many wonderful connections as a result). I was afraid of that happening again, however. I’m indecisive and I usually want to run away from decisions that will affect me long term. Slightly irrational, I know. Having choices is not a bad thing, by any means, but I was still so afraid of them.

Then I went to career planning and spent some time working on my resume and cover letter. I still had these fears but working in the office next door, I couldn’t hide away from my career advisor any longer. Last week I had a meeting with him that sort of changed my perspective and brought me “back”.

Did I lose you just now? Please let me explain. The reason I got the tattoo on my 18th birthday is because I have always been very afraid of…well, life. The thought of failure, of embarrassment, of getting hurt, etc, etc has always made me pause before doing anything. In high school I was able to overcome this fear by thinking of Amelia and how she was afraid of being a princess but she did it because she realized that she and others could gain so much more by her doing this, taking on this immense responsibility, than if she ran away from it all. I got the tattoo to serve as a physical reminder. So I wouldn’t have to conjure up the scene anymore, it would be on my body. I know how cliche this may sound, but having it be there and having this physical reminder that life is so much more than the multiple fears I had was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had.

Fast forward to freshman year in college. I still understood and believed in my tattoo and the message was still clear as day on my mind, body and soul. It’s what prompted me to make new friends, ask out a boy I thought was cute, join clubs and organizations that had members that intimidate the shit out of me (I’m looking at you Bowdoin Orient), etc, etc.

In the craziness of 2014 and 2015, however, I lost sight of that message. With my parents splitting up, me having to move in with me sister, the fallout with my brother, the hectic and unbelievable amount of work that accompanied college classes, I forgot about my tattoo and I forgot about Amelia and how brave she was. I forgot that being afraid is perfectly normal but that I can’t let it control my life.

Back to last week. I was speaking to my career advisor and somewhere in that conversation I got my mojo back and remembered Amelia. We were talking about the fact that although I am passionate about journalism I haven’t kept it in my mind as a career as much as I clearly need to. I haven’t taken the right steps to advance it like some others already have. You now know why though (that fear). The talk of careers for a straight week reminded me that I love writing. I genuinely love words and I love journalism. I want to do this as a profession so bad. That passion and that desire to improve my craft is more important than the fear of failure I have. Far more important. It took some constant discussions about it to remind me but I’m finally back.

Being afraid is ok. Like I said, I am so afraid all the time. However, I’m relearning that living in fear is not living.

Now this won’t change my relationships with people or really any aspect of my life except for how I approach a situation and how quickly I do things. I always eventually do what I need to do but because of the fear, sometimes I did things when they were too late or if they were trivial enough, not at all.

Having this reminder in my mind again and admiring my tattoo (yeah, yeah, I’m vain) tonight was much needed. Watching my favorite movie and being reminded of a stronger version of myself as well as mentally penning goals to reincorporate that strength were also very helpful.

When I woke up last week I was afraid. Now I choose to be, hopefully forever more, a little more courageous.

-M

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