Courage is a colourful thing. It may give you the strength to overcome your fears. Sometimes it kicks in without you even consciously feeling courageous, and then you do something beautifully stupid and amazing. Sometimes it’s very loud and visible and other times no one will ever notice. But it is there. You have courage.
I do not consider myself courageous.
I tend to dress very colourful, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I have had my rainbow hair for seven years – many people have called me courageous for doing so. But it never felt that way, it just felt like letting more and more masks fall off and shatter on the floor. Not for showing off, just for being able to breathe easier.
I just needed to grow out of this fear.
The fear of being seen for what I am: big, loud, colourful, weird, and -strangely enough- kind of sweet. People find me irritating, I am used to that by now. (Well, I am 49…) Some days I really feel like the world is my oyster, that I can do anything. Some days it is good to be me.
But there are other days: dark and full of atrocities I just can’t process. Days of constant disbelief. Days full of self-criticism and self-doubt.
Some days it takes a lot of courage to get up in the morning.
Just knowing what is waiting for me in the newspaper, on the screen, in the conversations around me, makes me anxious. Sometimes the world could really go on without me – if it is so determined to do all those stupid things, it cannot count on me! I’m taking the day off. Not out of fear, but out of consideration for the people I may meet on that day. They do not deserve to be my lightning rods.
It often takes courage to shut the fluff up.
Of course, there are moments where you need courage to speak up, either for yourself or for someone else. But once you get the hang of speaking up it becomes more difficult to keep quiet. It becomes more difficult to not engage in useless banter, in sheer enumerations of bad things. Sometimes the world is shouting at you, trying to provoke you, to get diversions from actual solutions, and it takes all the courage you can muster to keep calm. Not escalating things takes courage.
So, what can we do to practice? How can we make it easier on ourselves to act out of courage?
Well, we can start with the little things. Taking questions seriously that were intended to be rhetoric. Speaking our mind in moments of calm and playfulness. Growing slowly into a person that speaks her mind in private. And then, I promise you that, it will be getting easier to speak out in public.
Speaking our minds takes courage and lets us grow as human beings.
Yes, you are going to feel exposed, you’re going to sweat, you are going to tremble in your boots, but it’s worth it. There comes a point where you don’t need to speak out anymore. You will have the presence and people will know you for who you are. There comes a time where you can be calm and even silent again, without hiding your feelings and thoughts.
First you learn to talk, then you learn to stay silent.
Maybe for you it is not about speaking your mind. Maybe for you it’s about dressing how your feel. Or it may be about being more independent, in your thoughts or in your actions.
The training is the same: first you try to be courageous in every tiny little step, then the steps get bigger, and then you start to see where you don’t need to be courageous in the doing, but instead in the not doing. (Like a child that has learned to use its bicycle tends to drive around everywhere on the bicycle… For a while. Yes, even to the bedroom, most of us have been there, too.)
Your courage is like a muscle that you have to train.
Once the muscle is trained, it takes less effort to use it. But, as with any other muscle, you need to keep using it unless it will degrade. And like any other muscle it wants to be trained carefully and consciously. Do not overdo it. And always remember to check in with your fear, your faithful friend. She will help you in fact to develop your courage. (More on the faithful friend and growing out of your comfort zone, here)
I am really looking forward to MEETING the courageous, shining, fearfully brilliant you!
Heartfelt, wherever you are,
P.S.: Please, tell me in the comments: where do you want to train your courage, and what for? Where do you already feel courageous enough? How is your relationship with your fear? I really want to know…!