by Angela Fitzgerald
This time last week many of us were granted a day off from work in celebration of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a mission-driven individual who underwent much sacrifice to support equal rights for all. Now, I understand that he did not work alone and that there are many individuals who greatly contributed to the efforts enacted by Dr. King (I’m personally a pretty big fan of Congressman John Lewis, and “Walking with the Wind” remains one of my favorite reads), but for simplicity’s sake, I will be focusing on Dr. King.
I was actually encouraged to travel to Atlanta last weekend, both to get away from the cold in Madison and to take in the culture and history of the area. That and Spirit Airlines had stupid cheap flights, so I thought, Why not? I spent most of my Saturday playing tourist at the MLK visitor center, reading up on the history while hearing and seeing audio and video of the activities that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. I walked around and soaked in all of the information, while wondering what would or could’ve been the breaking point for me. How much could I have taken before I responded with a “Nah, I’m good,” and retreated to a quiet life accepting the status quo.
I admire and so appreciate those strong-willed individuals, past and present, who gave their all because of what they believed. Freedom is never free. The simple luxuries that I’ve personally grown accustomed to and take for granted cost many people their livelihood, families, friends, and even their lives. Even more interesting to me is how Dr. King’s life is glamorized now, in comparison to the negative way that some felt about his actions during that time. So not only did this man sacrifice his life ultimately so that all people could be treated equally, but some of those very people who benefited were also the same ones to not appreciate him while he was alive.
It takes a lot of mental fortitude to withstand mistreatment simply for being misunderstood and bold enough to stand firm in your convictions, no matter how unpopular they may be. Which for me begs the question: how far am I willing to go for freedom? I have many dreams and goals that I wish to accomplish in life. Those unwavering thoughts and ideas that linger and bring excitement. Ones that may deviate from traditional pathways but that I strongly feel are for me. I envision that a form of freedom is truly living in my purpose and making an impact, while also being able to financially support myself and my family. That freedom would entail working towards a solution to a problem that stands out to me, so much so that I know that I’ve been created to do something about it.
However, I understand that the pursuit of that freedom does not come without sacrifice. The sacrifice of dedicating countless hours to creating and building, after the job that pays the bills has been given its time. The sacrifice of not being understood by friends and family who are more comfortable with traditional pathways and are less than encouraging to the pursuit of purpose. The sacrifice of redefining success and what that means to me, and how that definition may look different than originally envisioned.
Ultimately, those who have succeeded in their fight for freedom (whether that be in social justice movements or in the simpler task of pursuing purpose without abandon) acknowledged the existence of the sacrifice that came along. But what distinguishes them from others who at some point said “Nah” was their determination to see their goal through, because ultimately it was worth it. I so desire to not give up on purpose, and instead of saying “Nah” to say “Yep” to the invitation to become and fully realize who I was created to be. I’m not there yet, but I’m encouraged that this realization is a first step in that direction for me.
I and the rest of the Brown Girl Green Money team encourage each of you to stand firm in your pursuit of freedom. Our focus is on finances, but that’s because we see finances as a tool to support the fulfillment of purpose. We would love to hear your definition of freedom and what being free means to you. Feel free to share by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you need encouragement along the way, send us an email or hit us up on Facebook. We would love to help you stay encouraged, because we understood that freedoms is worth the sacrifice.
Angela is a researcher/program evaluator by day, and crime fighter by night. And by “crime”, she means the perceived inability to turn dreams into reality. She can be reached at email@example.com if you’d like to share your money story, chop it over life goals, or all things Shonda Rhimes. Also, check out Brown Girl, Green Money on the book of faces at www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney