“The human soul has need of security and also of risk.
“The boredom produced by a complete absence of risk is also a sickness of the soul.”
– Simone Weil
[Photo of Weil from post: “How to Make Use of Our Suffering: Simone Weil on Ameliorating Our Experience of Pain, Hunger, Fatigue, and All That Makes the Soul Cry” By Maria Popova, Brain Pickings.]
One way we can stay vital and authentic is by saying what we really think, even when that may be a risk.
Actor Rachel McAdams once said, “I always feel incredibly intimidated, so I kind of kick myself in the ass and give myself a pep talk. I’m like, Okay, go in there and say what you mean and mean what you say. And be brave.”
Jurnee Smollett’s inspiration
One exciting example of being brave is the real life character Samantha Booke (played by Jurnee Smollett) in the film “The Great Debaters.”
She becomes the first woman selected by debate coach Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) to compete on the debate team at Wiley College in Texas during the Great Depression.
Smollett gives a passionate and powerful performance, and she gives credit to her mother, who “had a very socially active life. She marched and she did the sit-ins and voter organizing,” Smollett said.
“It built that whole warrior spirit inside of all of us.” [More on The Inner Actor post.]
Do men have an edge?
Taking risks can be a challenge, regardless of our gender, but we men may be, in general, more trained and socially supported to take risks, be outspoken and behave assertively.
Arianna Huffington points out, “Fear is universal; we all have fear.”
But, she adds in her book On Becoming Fearless, some fears “do tend to be more prevalent among women than men, including fear of staying single; fear of imperfection; fear of failure; of ugliness; of loneliness; of growing old; public speaking; ridicule…”
Katherine Heigl: just speaking
Katherine Heigl (“Grey’s Anatomy,” new movie “27 Dresses”) has a “growing reputation as being unusually frank, her comments coming in somewhere between Dorothy Parker-tough and diva-spoiled,” according to the article “Topic of discussion,” by Paul Brownfield, Los Angeles Times Jan 6, 2008.
The article continues: “Outspoken,” people call her, although it could also just be said that she speaks. Jane Fonda in Vietnam was outspoken; Heigl in Hollywood, calling the character she played in “Knocked Up” a shrew, is merely being forthright.
“The press or the media has decided that I’m outspoken, and I guess that’s my angle or something?” she asks. “I have been this way for the last five to seven years when I started saying, ‘You know, screw it, I’m not going to pussyfoot around issues anymore.’
“I kind of say what I think. And if I feel passionately about something I will be honest about it, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
Annette Bening on maturity
Actor Annette Bening thinks maturity can help being authentic: “One of the great things about being in my forties is you really do come into your own.
“I spent a lot of time trying to please other people and have everybody get along. There are some ways in which that’s a virtue, and some it’s not.
“You can’t really get your needs met if you’re constantly gauging what everybody else is going to be most appreciative of. Trying to find a way to do both is what one would hope for.
“Say what you think, ask for what you want. As I’ve gotten older, I have a quicker access to that. I like that about myself now.
Hillary Clinton says one of her “great personal heroines was Eleanor Roosevelt. The more I know about her, the more I admire her.
“A woman who may have come from privilege but had very little support in the family in which she was born. Who in a very American way invented herself.
“She once said: ‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do.'”
[From her Commencement Address, 2005.]