PUBLISHED: 11:37 AM on Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Don't let fear hold you back, live boldly

Amanda Gragert

"Embrace the geek in yourself and enjoy it. Life is too short to be cool."

This quote by Shirley Manson of the band Garbage is a favorite saying of mine.

To me, this is what life is all about. If you're not going to be yourself, no matter how silly or outrageous, then life is just bland.

Something else that falls into this category is being bold. Life is too short not to say what you are thinking or act on something you're curious about.

When I was 17 and a junior in high school, I was a disc jockey. I had a job in a nearby town one night, and I had been there before. There was a guy there that I admired, and I did not even know his name.

He was charismatic and would dance no matter what. He did not care if anyone else was on the dance floor or if everyone was staring at him. He just did whatever he wanted. He seemed so bold.

That night he asked my friend who was helping me to dance. She told him I had a crush on him, so he later asked me to dance.

We started to talk as we danced and out of nowhere I asked him to come to my prom with me, and he said yes.

I barely had learned his name was Brad Williams, and now this guy was coming to the prom with me.

I told my parents and my friends about it, they all thought I was crazy. I did not care though. There was something very special about Brad.

Even at the prom, people were skeptical about his character. He was very thin, very light skinned and had a shaved head. Living in a very small town in the Oklahoma Panhandle, the rumors were flying the next day about how strange he seemed and what he must be like. None of them were true, but both of us thought it was funny.

Brad met many of my friends that night and came to functions we would often have.

My one bold moment opened up a door for others to get to know this great guy.

After graduation I did not keep in touch with Brad that much. I would see him occasionally, but did not ever have much to say.

He died three years ago from a brain aneurysm. I knew it was a possibility of happening because his brother had died from the same thing a year and a half earlier, but I was still shocked. He was in a coma for two weeks before he died, several of those days he lived after the life support had been unplugged.

Several people told me how they would not have even known Brad if it had not been for me. People told me stories about things Brad had done for them and how much they respected him.

He was respected because he was bold. He lived his life to the fullest and never settled for less from anyone else. He respected my bold moment of asking him to the prom, and that's what our friendship was based on.

Brad's funeral was held at the high school auditorium in his hometown. Going there brought back memories. I drove by the building where the high school dances were held.

I remembered how charismatic Brad was. I thought about all of his beliefs, how much he cared about people and how much pride he had in himself. This is someone who lived more in the 20 years he was on earth than some people do in 80 years.

I push myself to live as boldly as Brad did. I find that at 23 I'm not quite as outgoing as I was at 17, but then I think of Brad and can't help but smile. He would tell me to do whatever I want because great things could be the result.

He never apologized for who he was and encouraged the same from those he knew.

The memory of this wonderful and outgoing person has encouraged me to do such things as fly in a homemade airplane, volunteer for various organizations and activities and move to Alaska.

Strive to embrace who you are and enjoy it. You never know what being bold in life may bring you.

Amanda Gragert is the editor at Capital City Weekly.