Sunday, November 1, 2009
A recent question from a friend had me pondering the word 'audacity. It's one of a few a words that have two connotations, each in opposition to the other. On the one hand, there's the sense of insolence, impertinence, defiance, as in: "Do you mean to say that you have the audacity to question my authority?" The other connotation is one of boldness, daring, heroism, even spunk. The "correct" meaning depends upon the situation in which it's used.
I consider myself lucky to have witnessed an amazing display of audacity in the latter of those two definitions. I just spent three hours helping a young woman write an intent paper for her college application. K is in her early 30's. She's part of the wait staff at a local restaurant. When she was 12, she was sent off to the "naughty kids' school" for what her school district identified as behavior problems. In looking back, K. attributes those problems to her severe hearing loss and to upheavals in her home life. Attendance at that school continued through high school where, she told me, only the basics were taught. She said, "It was an education that left me bored and uninspired."
K has decided to go to college, and I am in awe of the audacity that K is showing in taking action to pursue an education that she at one time thought was beyond her grasp. I am in awe of the audacity it took to overcome her past. I'm even in awe of the audacity it took for her to take me up on my offer to help her with her application. She was scared; this was, after all, an action that could set her world spinning in directions she knows she's not familiar with.
Some people might look at K's decision as one of effrontery. After all, how dare she go after something as foreign to her upbringing as a fine arts degree? Who does she think she is? Believe me, I know people who think this way. They're usually the folks who are afraid to pursue their own dreams. I, on the other hand, see K's audacity as an act of courage. It'll take a lot of boldness, daring, heroism, even spunk to achieve her goal; K. has it all. And if some folks are threatened by the effrontery of her decision, well, so be it. That's their problem, not hers.