People tell me pretty regularly how brave I must be. You’re so brave, going to Europe by yourself! You’re so brave going to events alone! You’re so brave, walking the dog at night! You’re so brave, making this leap in your career! I wish I was as brave as you are.
And you know, I used to kind of brush those comments off- no, I’m not brave, this is easy!
And then one I day, I thought about it. I took a minute and really thought about it.
I think we have a bad perception of what the word ‘brave’ means. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word ‘brave’, I get impressions of sword fights, suits of armor, dragons and billowing hair. And I suppose that is one definition of the word, right? Brave Sir Galahad, saving the fair maiden from the dragon? Sure, I’ll buy that. That’s brave.
But there is another definition, and one that I think we can relate to much more easily in this computer addicted, routine loving, safe feeling world. Brave. Brave means determined. It means having a dream and refusing to give up. It means running full out, dead sprinting towards something that makes you feel alive… or away from something that is slowly killing you. Or maybe it means having the courage to be the person your friends need, not the ones they want. It means telling them, nicely, gently, with love, when they’re losing themselves somewhere along the way. It means sticking to that, even if it costs part of your relationship. It means learning what you believe in and then planting yourself and saying, “no, you move.” It means waking up in the morning and staring fear, or depression, or anger, or resentment, or hopelessness, or worry, or pain in the face and telling them to get out of your way.
And it also means learning to take a long, hard, objective look at yourself and say to yourself “you screwed that up.” It means learning to take responsibility for your triumphs and your failures. It means being able to take a hit as well as give them out. That’s what brave means. And if that’s our working definition of the word brave, then being brave is what Superhero Living is all about.
And if that’s our definition, those people that tell me I’m brave? They’re right. I do seem brave. But every ‘brave’ decision I’ve made has come from a place of deep and abiding fear. I was terrified to go to Europe, stay with people I’d never met, go to a country where I knew none of the traditions, language or culture and stay for three weeks. I have had full out anxiety attacks on my way to an event I’ve been looking forward to, simply because I’ll be showing up alone. I’ve had nightmares about making ends meet because maybe I am not making the right career choices. I’ve spent hours and days walking with Penelope, afraid that I’m making the wrong decisions, afraid that I’ll lose people by being myself, afraid that I’m lost somehow.
And I’ve moved forward anyway.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Do one thing everyday that scares you”. And every time I think to myself “no way, you can’t do that” I take a deep breath and I think hard about doing it anyway. Because a lot of the time, something you’re afraid of doing is exactly what you need to do to help yourself grow. And being a superhero means growing. It just does. It means finding that tiny seed inside yourself and helping it to sprout and grow.
If I can do it, you can too. I promise.
I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying that you’ll wake up tomorrow and suddenly be able to boldly make decisions that will change who you are, your relationships, and your life. But I AM saying it is possible. And I’m saying you should TRY. Find one thing that scares you. And do it. Find another thing tomorrow. And do that too. Make the first phone call. Write the first chapter. Make a difficult move. Lean into that fear. There are two ways out at this point: fear either paralyzes or motivates. Whatever you do, don’t get caught in the “paralyze” pool. It’s easy to do. But don’t let it suck you in! Find the motivator in there. Think about how upset you’ll be if you never write the book. Discover within yourself the desire to help your spouse alter a damaging habit. Then wade into the fray, sword held high, and slay. That. Dragon. You’ve got this. You’re brave.
Superhero action of the day: identify three things that scare you, whether they’re personal, professional or something else. Take the first step on conquering that fear. Today.