C O U R A G E. Now there’s a word that incites different feelings for people. A word that some identify with and others don’t. When I was in my 20s, I didn’t consider myself courageous. As a matter of fact, when I thought of courageous people, I thought of people like Rosa Parks fighting for civil rights, or Amelia Earhart, who literally gave women wings in a male dominated industry. I thought of firemen who raged wild fires risking their lives every day, or soldiers who fought and died for the freedom of our country. A courageous person was someone whose impact, bravery and actions affected millions and created a better world. While this type of courage is extremely admirable, it’s not the only type of courage as I learned later on in life. You see, just like humans, courage comes in all shapes, sizes and forms.
I believe we are all born with courage, but as life happens, sometimes it doesn’t manifest itself in all its glory. Now we are in a stage of life where many changes (whether positive or negative) may be converging at once, like divorce or a new love, loss of a job or starting a new business, death or loss of people we know, serious illness or disability rearing its ugly head, or even the heart-break of watching our parents age. We have to assimilate these things that sometimes shake us to our core. Courage is having the energy to keep going, it’s taking chances, it’s staying the course, it’s finding joy, it’s not giving up. Courage doesn’t always have to be bold and blatant, it can be subtle and just as powerful.
In my case, my first tasting of real courage happened when I became a mom at 33. There is something about motherhood that shifts your being. For me, it started showing up in little things like being the voice for my son when he couldn’t communicate himself, or following my gut instinct even when others disagreed. Then my second son came along and my courage doubled up. The early years of motherhood was like sitting through an entire washing machine cycle, spinning out of control at times, having cold water thrown at my face repeatedly, and wringing that stretched me waaaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone. At other times I enjoyed the luxury of the resting cycle that reenergized me, but that came in small tidbits. After all the physical pain, the worry, the anxiety, the sleepless nights, I emerged knowing I could conquer anything. Talk about bold courage! Now that I’m in my 40s and my kids are older, my courage has shifted and evolved once again.
Life experiences have brought us this far, we are more daring, more willing to question the status quo, more willing to challenge our fears, and more willing to put ourselves “out there.”
I have an internal impulse that arises out of me each and every day that makes me want to positively contribute to society. In a world filled with so much negativity, crime and deception, courage (for me) is doing something positive each and every day, however small it may be. Here are definitions of courage that I live by now:
- Courage is believing in yourself.
- Courage is adapting.
- Courage is being imperfect and 100% authentically yourself.
- Courage is hearing the truth.
- Courage is not judging others.
- Courage is not needing validation.
- Courage is not looking away.
- Courage is doing something new.
- Courage is reaching out to others.
- Courage is falling down and getting up again.
- Courage is having empathy.
- Courage is not taking the easy way out.
- Courage is challenging the system.
- Courage is knowing you have a choice.
I encourage you to become intimate with your courage and wear it often, it’s an empowering way to live. Confront your fears, your dreams, your uncertainties, and do not wait for the right moment, just move forward and believe me when I say that courage “has your back.”
I’m curious to know and apply other definitions of courage to my life.
Tell me yours.