The Story of My Tattoo: Reckless Bravery

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This week, I got this tattooed on my arm. I chose this phrase not because I think we should all live recklessly. I don’t think you should live without caution. Or toss all cares aside. I don’t believe you should throw your pro/con lists out the window, or make rash, uninformed decisions.

Here’s what I do think: most of us, especially women, could stand to be a bit braver in our lives. And not just brave. I think we need a little more RECKLESS bravery. So many of us live safe lives. We live comfortable lives. We live lives inside the boxes we have drawn for ourselves, and simply watch the world go on around us. And we wish. We wish for a better life, whatever that means. We wish for a life in which we were given permission to live out who we truly think we are, or who we were made to be. We hope that one day, when our kids are grown, or when we make enough money, or even worse, when we are retired, we will be able to follow our passions, and be a little braver in stepping out and showing the world our real selves.

But, you guys, I got this tattoo to remind myself on a daily basis that I want to live a recklessly freaking brave life every single day. I want my life to be defined by my choices, not the choices of everyone else around me. I want my life to be shaped by my agenda, not the agendas of everyone who shows up in my inbox or walks into my office or my life. I want these words to stare me in the face when I’m playing it small or letting fear show me up. I want these words literally carved into my skin, unable to budge when I allow insecurity to seep into my thoughts and my soul. I want these words to be there EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of my life to remind me that I’m not a person who has brave moments, whose life is characterized by snippets of courage that never truly amounted to anything, but rather, I am a person who takes on every day as the audacious badass she was created to be.

I placed this tattoo on the outer edge of my right forearm for all of you. My dream is to speak in classrooms and auditoriums and on stages; to encourage and tell stories and light a freaking fire under people, and this placement means if I’m holding a microphone, these are the words you will see. If I’m talking with my hands (read: the whole time), these are the words you will see.

I placed this tattoo on the outer edge of my right forearm for me. When I’m doing my makeup in the morning, these are the words I will see staring me down in that mirror. When I’m curling my hair or getting dressed or just living life, these are the words I will see.

As some of you know, I’m writing a book. For months and months, I woke each day at 5am, sat down at my kitchen table, and wrote. The stories poured out of me, filling the pages day after day. But the title stumped me. I didn’t know what the theme of the book was. I didn’t know what pulled it all together.

I’m not an expert at this book writing thing. Rather, the thoughts and stories and events of my life rattled around in my brain demanding to be written down. And I merely listened. You see, this writing, this blog, this book is for me. This craft, this art is for me. There is nothing more humbling than to think it could be worth something to you, too, but that’s not the reason I started. And it won’t be the reason I continue.

And then one day, it came to me. Living the life I long to live, striving for vulnerability, putting myself out there - it’s a bit audacious. But audacious. It just didn’t feel right. So I did what I always do when the word appearing on the page doesn’t match the intention in my heart - I looked it up in the dang dictionary, searching for what I truly meant, mining for a meaning that spoke to me. And there it was. Recklessly brave. That’s it, I thought. That is the title of my book.

You see, words have power. Choose yours wisely.

Abby Weiland