Choosing Courage

Choosing Courage
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(It’s important to watch the clip before reading the article.)

Starting last year, I decided to forego any New Year’s resolutions due to my propensity of not seeing them through even to the end of January. I instead opted for a “rest of my life” resolution and decided to pick a word that would be the foundation for all my actions and decisions, so on January 1st of 2016, I nestled up to Courage and asked that it take control and lead me to wherever and whomever it saw fit.

Fear and its over dramatic need for safety wanted no part of this and actually spent most of its time reminding me of the chances that I’d fail, get hurt, be embarrassed, or just never amount to what Courage knew I was.

With shaky steps and heaps of trepidation, the last 15 months with Courage behind the wheel have looked quite similar to the Parks and Rec episode where Leslie Knope and team tried to make it to the stage for a campaign speech in the middle of an ice rink with the carpet only reaching about halfway. That is how I’ve looked at any given point on any given day during this change in my life. I have been slipping and sliding around, just wanting to get to the stage, which always represented my newest adventure.

I learned early on that the only parts of life I truly wanted started at the end of that carpet and the beginning of the ice, and it was Courage who asked that I trust in myself and take the scary step away from predictable safety. I was hesitant about clinging to Courage at first because I had always been attached to comfort and the control I had with it. I wanted to know all variables and outcomes before making decisions, and if there was a chance of me failing, I’d steer clear. That whole perfection cloak doesn’t like to be muddied by a fall, and I was never one to be graceful. Courage doesn’t promise pretty, clean, or successful. It’s a blind leap of faith without a net below.

With each venture out onto the ice, choosing Courage became easier. This is not to say that it became easier because I learned how to skate with effortlessness to the stage. At no point have I resembled Meryl Davis; in fact, I am sure I looked most similar to Andy, the guy in the clip who face plants on the ice. The ease in choosing Courage came with the joy and freedom of the journey off the carpet. Each time I leaned into Courage, I began to honor that inextinguishable spark in my soul that burns to live a life where I show up instead of sitting on the sidelines and that only asks that I quit trying to fit in when I was born to stand out. I learned what and who was truly important to me, and because of that, I stopped wasting so much of my valuable time on tasks and people who did not honor who I am. I learned what I was made of because it’s never easy to stand up after a fall, and there are too many people who find pleasure in rooting for other people to fail. To get up on a slippery surface is Courage in and of itself.

Like Leslie though, I am surrounded by a team who will carry a three-legged urinating dog, who will work together to get me to the stage and who will pick up my note cards for me after I’ve most certainly dropped each one. I think this is essential for those who are experimenting with Courage for the first time because the fall is not just possible; it’s inevitable. For me, my people always look me in the eyes and say, “You know exactly why you’re doing this. Get back up, and let’s go again.” That vote of confidence was enough to bandage my battered heart and get me back on the ice in the beginning, and now, it’s the soundtrack I play in my head whether they are with me or not. The people surrounding me aren’t all the tried and true people who’ve been around me for years. Courage led me to also step out and meet others who I didn’t know I needed. They’ve taught me countless new lessons and have pushed me to grow in different ways. New or old, the people around me are my steadying force. This team need not be large, but it must be mighty because the critics and negative self talk are deafening at times.

Looking back on this adventure with Courage, I can vouch that the greatest aspect to come out of this partnership is finally showing up exactly how I am. I have given up the comfort of living the life others want me to live and am being brave enough to chase after the one I know I can have. I have found that is, by far, one of the most terrifying parts of life. There is nothing truly invested or lost when living for others, and it is the easy way out. To wake up every single day and be true to myself and show others my whole heart is Courage personified. I am awkward, optimistic, full of joy, and determined to make a difference in the world. Courage has allowed me to confidently walk into a room and show that to others. That is living life off the carpet.

It’s been over a year since I gave up resolutions and instead reached for a value to live by; it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. The person I have become is one I am finally proud of and believe in. Give me the ice, the leap of faith, the adventure. Whether I succeed or fail is irrelevant. I can say I was courageous, and that is all I want to be.

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