My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Bravery’

Why you should laugh in the face of fear (and do the damn thing!)

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Fear is a funny thing, guys. A funny thing, but also very necessary. If you go back in history, fear was what enabled the cavemen (and cavewomen because I’m pretty sure they were out there kicking some serious mammoth ass along with their male counterparts) to identify a dangerous situation. Fear heightens your senses, pumps adrenaline into your system, and it helps you survive whatever it is that’s scaring you.

And since we no longer have mammoths IRL–our lives are a lot less difficult and fewer stakes are raised–our fears tend to be the things we manifest inside ourselves. They’re the things we let fester, the dreams we never pursue, the chances we don’t take, the places we never visit, the people we never admit to loving, and the jobs we never apply for. There are so many things to be afraid of, but most of these things reside inside our own head. Because what if we fail? What if we never recover? What if, what if, what if?

But what it we don’t?

What if we do the scariest thing of all–what if we actually get everything we ever wanted?

I had a former track coach who would always tell me that you should get uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is where you begin to see changes. (If only I had a dollar for every time he lovingly barked this sentiment as I sweated through 200 meter suicides, my snazzy new Nike Frees would pay for themselves.) And it’s true–not just in the biological sense that your body responds to harder work by adapting and becoming stronger, but because your mind becomes stronger, too. You begin to withstand the scary things, the things you never thought you were capable of. And in this, you become more resilient.

Because being scared is uncomfortable. Being afraid is supposed to be uncomfortable–it lights that metaphorical fire under your ass in order to tell you to work towards being more comfortable. But there are two ways that you can do this: either retreating, and avoiding the thing in the first place, or working through it to the other side. Riding out the uncomfortable and the scary until you’re stronger and things aren’t as scary anymore. Fight or flight. Do or die.

Laughing in the face of fear and doing the damned thing anyway.

And of course, in order to really understand how to withstand the scary things life throws at us (relationships, jobs, failure, spiders and a serious Chik-fil-a craving on a Sunday afternoon), you have to get to the bottom of why you think it’s scary. Why it gets under your skin, why it terrifies you, why it dregs up memories of all the other times you faced scary things and didn’t come out stronger on the other side. There’s a whole host of reasons, really, and each will vary from person to person. But I think one of the things that connects this fear we all experience isn’t all that unique.

We’re most afraid of being happy. Of having a good life. A great life.

Not that we don’t want to–oh, of course we do. But we wonder if we deserve a good life, a great life. This doubt creeps in and we’re left second-guessing ourselves when we have to stand up to the thing that is in the way of our happiness. Of whatever it is we want. After all, what would happen if we wound up getting everything we wanted? What if it all got taken away?

But I guess that’s a risk with everything you do. So you might as well face the scary parts head on, because chances are, the outcome you want least to happen, might happen anyway. Whether you tried or not.

And if you don’t try, the what if–the magical, fantastical, best-case-scenario–will never happen at all.

Do the things that scare you. Get uncomfortable. Get really uncomfortable. Stand your ground. Speak up and go after the things you want, no matter how scary it is. Apply for that job, tell the person you’re crushing on that you like them, take that risk.

And if you do wind up with everything you ever wanted it’s because you did that work. You put in the effort, you found the grit within yourself, you realized that the scariest things in this world can sometimes be the most wonderful.

We’re scared of change, is all. But change is good for us. Great, even.

Change is how we learn, how we grow, how we overcome those mammoths.

And there’s nothing more fulfilling or badass than that, my friends.

Brave

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The Oxford dictionary primarily defines ‘brave’ as the following: Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage. I would also add to this definition: attempting to wear white at an Italian restaurant, grocery shopping on an empty stomach and listening to Hanson in public (YOU CAN’T NOT DANCE AND EPICALLY KAROKE WHEN LISTENING TO HANSON, Y’ALL!!! It’s literally physically impossible.)

But back to my good friend Oxford. According to its definition, me thinks that there are two primary parts, two very crucial ingredients to being brave – the ability to endure, and courage. I might add that when one is brave, two of these qualities have to co-exist, and they are both of equal importance.

In order to understand bravery, one must first understand its opposite – fear.

Fear. That dirty, four-letter word. It’s a creeper, a prohibitor. It is an enemy, and a cruel one at that. Most people don’t like to get to know their enemies, but I am of the opinion that one must not only know their enemies, but also understand them.

Like a lot people, two of my biggest fears are that of rejection and failure. Oof. Those things give me the heeby-jeebies just in mentioning them. Which makes sense, because they are supposedly the two contemporary greatest human fears alongside spiders, and running out of Oreos, and spiders, and tornadoes, and spiders and did I mention spiders? Okay. Maybe these things are just what I tend to fear on the regular, but you get the idea.

Search “overcoming fear” on the Googles, Pinterests and other areas of the inter webs and you are bound to be hit with a kajillion quotes (I love a good cliché, but for all intents and purposes, I will spare you).  The most profound thing I have learned about fear in my almost 30 years of life is that there really is no escaping it.

But knowing that fear is inescapable is exactly why bravery is of utmost necessity in life.

Fear is the thing that paralyzes, while bravery is the thing that frees. Fear is the thing that chooses mediocre, while bravery is the thing that takes the risk of chance, a chance that could bring greatness or defeat. Fear always leads to regret, while bravery leads to knowing.

Bravery requires endurance because it requires persistence and perseverance  – that thing that keeps you going after the proverbial fat lady has sung and the show is over. Bravery requires courage because first you must make the choice to be at the show, and then to get up and rock out with your bad self too.

When I think of all the people in my life who have been brave and who continue to be brave, I realize that bravery means many different things in many different situations.

Sometimes bravery means being the person who stands out in the crowd, who speaks up, and who must be a voice, either the voice they need to hear, or a voice for others. Sometimes bravery means having the prudence to pause, to sit in silence and to just be okay.

Sometimes bravery means putting up the fight of your life, and fighting till the very end. Sometimes bravery means raising up that white flag, accepting defeat, and finding the will to move on from that defeat without resentment, and with wisdom.

Sometimes bravery means to search for the things and the people who make you feel alive; to take risks, to be a long shot and an outlier. Sometimes bravery means to be grateful and content and satisfied with the state of your right here and right now.

But bravery, whatever it is some of the time, to be authentic, to be able to endure, to be an act of courage, must also be an act of love.

Whether of a thing or of a person or of a place, bravery must be manifested through this love. And to be brave you must accept that the great love of anything may result in heartbreak and pain and disappointment. To be brave, you must be willing to risk the possibility of a terrifying ending.

To be brave is to be alive and to live in such a way that the world knows you are afraid, but you love more than you fear.

Bravery rocks, kids!

Almost as much a plate full of Oreos. 😉

Be Brave

Hey guys! Happy fourth day of 2014! I hope the new year is treating you well so far!

Today, I wanted to talk to you briefly about the concept of bravery. I recently read the short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty written by Steve Conrad and absolutely fell in love with not only the story and the characters, but the overall theme and message that it gave. The short story has been adapted into a feature film directed by and starring Ben Stiller, and after having read the book it was based on, I cannot wait to go see the movie.

The story centers around the main character Walter Mitty, who lives his life through his incredible daydreams. When his job, along with that of his co-worker, whom he begins to fall in love with, are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. As the story goes on, we observe Walter transform from a timid soul who watches the world go by, to a brave man who acts upon his heart’s deepest dreams, facing his fears and going after what he really wants, confirming this positive thought:

“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

I wonder how many of us act like Walter, wanting to change our live and do something different and exciting, yet are paralyzed by fear and routine, rejection and heart break?

I for one, have fallen trap to the “F” word: fear. In my  26 years of life, there have been quite a few times when I missed out on amazing opportunities, on incredible experiences, and even loving relationships because I was afraid.

I was afraid to fail.

I was afraid to put myself out there.

I was afraid of what others might think about me.

I was afraid of getting hurt.

As I sat and read about Walter’s adventures, I had to ask myself how he did it. What exactly catapulted Walter into the life he’d always wanted? Bravery perhaps? Did you know that bravery is the single most powerful emotion we can harness while overcoming our fears? “Be brave? What if I’ve never been brave?”

I think the key to overcoming any fear is to take steps, however small, out of your comfort zone. We all have certain walls and limitations we put up to some extent; its what makes us feel protected and safe. Here’s the thing about these bubbles and walls though: we need to get out of them regularly. These bubbles and walls are big, old, and boring. They’re stagnant and they keep you from the world, and the world from you.resize_then_crop_540_350

So how do we pop these bubbles and tear down these walls?

Do something that scares you everyday.

These things of course can vary from person to person, depending on what your particular fears are. Take for example me.

  • This year, I really want to try to stop focusing so much on being “perfect”. As most of you know, this has been something that I’ve struggled with in the past, the idea that failure or making a mistake was the worst thing that could happen. The fact is, the worst thing that could happen would be for me to miss out on an incredible opportunity or to learn from my mistakes simply because I was afraid. Afraid to fail. Afraid to not be “perfect”.
  • I want to unplug. Technology is great, but is has a way of overriding the little everyday moments that we experience. I am going to try (try being the operative word here) to go social media/Internet/text message free for at least one day a week. Relying on a new means of adventure, fun, and personal connection is definitely not a bad thing!
  • I want to travel. I want to explore new places, meet interesting people, and get lost. I’ve always been a fan of seeing this great world around me, but this year I really want to make an active effort to do more. To see more. To experience more.
  • I want to try and open my culinary horizons. I think I’ve fallen into a bit of a food rut as of late; eating the same things, ordering the same food, all because of habit. I think it would be nice to not only order new and interesting items from the restaurant menu, but also put on my “Kiss the Chef” apron and cook more. Hey, even Rachel Ray had to start somewhere, right?
  • Lastly, I want to put myself out there and start dating again. I’ve had my heart broken in the past. I’ve also never really felt worthy of someone’s love, that I wasn’t good enough. It took me a long, long time to finally learn to love myself, to be proud of who I am. Now that I realize how kick-ass I really am, I’m ready to find someone who is equally as kick-ass. I want to find that guy who is my other half, my partner in crime, my best friend. I want to feel that weak-in-your-knees, butterfly-in-your-stomach, can’t-get-him-out-of-my-head, constant-smile love. Will I have to take chances? Absolutely. Will I, on probably more than one occasion, make a fool of myself? Without a doubt. Is there a chance that I will get my heart broken again? Of course. But I’m beginning to realize that this, all of this, is TOTALLY worth the risk.

So how about it, my friends? How about adopting a new outlook on life in 2014? Maybe that means unpluging from technology and relying on a new source of life and adventure. Maybe that means stopping to talk to a stranger or figuring out which way is east by looking at the sun. Or, you can be like Walter Mitty, and borrow a skateboard from an Icelandic teenager and skate your way into an adventure.

Let’s stop talking about having a vibrant life, and start living it.

Break out of your routine.

Do something crazy. Move out.

Go buy a plane ticket and be the story instead of hearing the story.

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