Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Born Bold

on March 11, 2014

boldness

I should know better than to go posting quotes on Facebook without doing my homework first. I keep finding out afterwards that something isn’t right about the quote – either it’s been misattributed, or the wording is off, or something. Last week I posted this jewel:

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” Goethe.

It’s a great quote, but I’ve since discovered (by actually taking the time to find out) that neither the wording nor this author is correct. This is the real quote:

Go at it boldly, and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.

This sounds more to me like a cast-off tag line for “Star Trek” than something meant to move people to boldness. It was written by a Canadian-born clergyman named William Benjamin Basil King. I’ve never heard of him, and no wonder – apparently somebody (or a bunch of somebodies) thought the idea of this quote was too good to allow it to be ascribed to some guy no one ever heard of, so he/she/they re-wrote it and told the world Goethe said it. I understand why people would believe that – after all, it does sound like something Goethe might say. And “mighty” is a much more exciting word than “unexpected”, so you really can’t blame them for changing it.

Regardless of who said it, or what the specific words are, the meaning is still the same which is what attracted me to the quote in the first place. The idea that taking bold action will be rewarded by help from invisible forces is extremely compelling. It’s not a new idea – I think we all on some level or another want to believe that courageously standing up for a righteous cause or striking out on our own in a new direction is worthy of cosmic assistance. Our mythology is rife with stories of the supernatural help available to anyone who chooses courage over fear or faith over disbelief. This is demonstrated in one of my favorite movie quotes of all time, spoken by Yoda the Jedi master in Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. You remember the scene: Luke Skywalker attempts to lift his ship out of the bog into which it has sunk by using the power of the Force, and is unable to do it. Yoda steps up and raises his hand; soon the ship rises out of the water and floats over their heads to settle lightly on dry ground. Luke is stunned. He says to Yoda “I can’t believe it.” Yoda replies “That is why you fail.” The message is clear – mystical power is available, but to get it you have to have courage and complete faith. In other words, you have to be bold.

There’s so much talk now about how you shouldn’t tell a girl she’s bossy, and that if a boy acted the way a “bossy” girl did we’d say he’s exhibiting leadership qualities. Well, as a bossy girl, I’m here to tell you that I hated being called bossy, and because I hated it, I tried to modify my behavior to be what other people seemed to expect me to be. I say I tried – I don’t think I was all that successful (my friends are laughing right now because they know I wasn’t). But even though I couldn’t achieve a convincingly demure exterior doesn’t mean it didn’t leave a mark on me. It did. When I was young I learned that being bossy isn’t an attractive thing for a girl to be. Boys don’t like bossy girls (not to have as their girlfriends anyway) and girls don’t like bossy girls (for any number of reasons). So I learned to be ashamed of who I was. Eventually I figured out that being “bossy” isn’t the same as being bold. You can be bossy without being bold, and you can be bold without being bossy.

Bossy is telling people what to do; it is out front, taking charge. Bold is walking your own path, whether anyone comes with you or not. Bold is looking your fear in the face and saying “I’m still afraid of you, but I’m doing this anyway.” Bold is being who you are, no matter what people think. Bold is embracing your whole personality, not just the bits you like. Bold isn’t rude or pushy – it’s a quiet thing, because by its nature it doesn’t need acknowledgement or approbation.

I was born bold – I just haven’t always thought I should be. I thought I needed permission (from whom I can’t tell you) to be all of myself. I thought I shouldn’t revel in the fabulousness that is me, or if it did, I thought I had to feel embarrassed about it. I’ve spent a lot of my life making myself smaller in order to fit into someone else’s idea of me. We all do it, but women do it more because that’s what we’ve been told we’re supposed to do. “You’re too loud,” “You’re too dramatic”, “You make me nervous.” When someone said those things to me I wish I had had the boldness to reply “Sounds like your problem, sweetheart, not mine.” I wish.

There’s a risk to being bold. You may lose your friends (or people you thought were your friends). People may say mean things about you, or to you. They did to me. They still do, sometimes. But I promise you, if you are bold, if you give yourself permission to be amazing, then mighty, mighty forces will rise up to aid you. And you will, by your example, give others permission to be bold themselves. And the world will be a better place.

*******

Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: curiousyellow via photopin cc

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2 responses to “Born Bold

  1. Carolyn Cook says:

    Love you, Amanda.

    Like

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