Every day I am reminded by a word to live by because I have it tattooed on my wrist.
In April 2015 I was able to finally meet someone who I had looked up to since she was crowned Miss America. Someone who did not know, but was a big role model in my life. Her name is Mallory Hagan. We have since become friends and she was even my mentor my senior year in college.
In the program book of the Azalea Festival that she was the “queen” of that year, she wrote her signature phrase. Some strong words to live by : “Be Kind. Be Courageous. Be You.” She even has ‘Be Courageous’ tattooed on her forearm as well. These six small, yet big, words have stuck with me ever since.
Mallory gave a speech at Auburn University back in 2017 (I think) about how she branded herself with the word courage because of her life story. Especially now, since she has been through the ‘Miss American’ debacle, ‘being the storm’, and a lot of other life events since I watched the live stream of that speech. If you don’t know it, I am sure you can find it somewhere online. She took that word, and decided to live her life with it and look where it has got her. Moved to NY, became Miss America, started her own coaching platform, moved back to Alabama to become a news anchor, RUN FOR CONGRESS, and many other accomplishments along the way. She has always taught me to live my dreams and live for myself.
When I got my tattoo in 2017, I did it for a couple of reasons. Mostly because going into my senior year of college…I was a wreck. Family things had happened, I spent the whole summer thinking I was working towards my future career, and I was overwhelmed with a lot of personal things as well. I found the word courage in almost everything I did. I saw it in my homework, TV shows, my sororities ritual, and a quote on my desk. Literally everywhere.
So I texted my mom and asked her to write the word out on a sticky note and send me a picture. Two months later I had it on my wrist because I felt I needed a daily reminder that I was going to be okay, I was going to make it through. I had the courage to keep living and things were going to turn out the way they are supposed too.
Now, ever since I moved to Italy, this word ‘courage’ has re-surfaced and shown itself to me again and again. Whether it be someone messaging me saying “it takes a lot of faith and courage to do that”, or from the speech that I heard in class by a guest speaker saying thats how she got to her position in her career.
Quick overview on that speech (that literally made me cry during class) : Serena De Marte is now the Managing Director for Tiffany & Co. for Italy and Spain. However, she went to school for economics / finance and was meant to become a banker. She took a courageous leap to move from a small town in Italy, go to school in the big city of Milan, study in school to become a banker, and then ended up becoming a major retail developer and manager for Louis Vuitton for 15 years. Moving to and from Paris. Now working for another prestigious brand such as Tiffany. Her speaking into existence what I want to do with my life has made me realize that I can because she did was eye-opening. I cried because she kept referencing courage. How without that motivation and word embedded in her she would not be in her current role. She had optimism and courage.
I think back to how Mallory moved her whole life to NYC randomly (or not so random) to pursue a dream she had. Then Serena how she left her small town in Italy to move to Milan and then Paris to work for Louis Vuitton and change how their brand was marketed. I think about how I picked up my life to move to Pittsburgh to also pursue a dream. Now I have picked up once again and moved 5,000 miles away to pursue something else.
I do not necessarily agree with the dictionaries definition of the word. It says : “the ability to do something that frightens one.”
I was never frightened by school. I was never frightened by my career path. I was never frightened in making a decision to move to another state or country. I just had enough courage, faith and will power within me to take a step that I deemed necessary to better myself. My own definition of it is “living without fear”.
So, chase whatever it is that excites you. Be courageous and take risks. Start writing your own words. Your story can inspire anyone. The words you write the friends you have, the urgency you feel will always be there. The love you profess will always be there. The spark of something undeniable, a sea of hope, the truth of ‘for better or for worse’, burning fiercely below the surface will always be there. Find your courage.
I did not make a resolution this year, I am just going to live my year with courage, and take those risks, and make the moves.
Once again I leave you with a bible verse that I felt inspiring on this topic.
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV