I was speaking with someone recently and I asked them what was holding them back from doing the things that they wanted to do – their answer was: “Shackled by doubt, manners, ill-conceived notions of right and wrong, and mostly cowardice!” My response? “Be bold! Live bravely!!! Rawr!!!!” Not exactly my finest or most eloquent motivational speech, but…a start. I think that despite a number of obstacles, I’ve always managed to make my way through the world with some degree of boldness, even though I, too, have struggled to put my bravest foot forward every time. I have hesitated when I should have plunged in with both feet, and I have wasted many moments mentally weighing pros and cons instead of just living in those moments. Thankfully, I am getting better with this as I age – I think it’s the shocking reality of one’s own mortality that brings on these braver thoughts. You just never know when it’ll be the end of your time here, so it’s best to live life out loud, and never dull your shine.
How do you act more brave? A quick Google search yielded this article, which I thought was pretty awesome:
Bravery isn’t only about heroic acts in unusual situations. It can also be as simple as the risk of trying something new. Here are 50 ideas to get you started.
Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.
Let go of people who continually let you down.
Look at yourself in the mirror with kindness.
Tell someone you love him/her.
Preach what’s in your heart.
Write your own story.
Share your thoughts.
Share your opinions.
Don’t wear make up.
Risk being wrong.
Try something for the first time.
Trust your instincts.
Put pen to paper.
Sing a song.
Play the ukulele.
Try Roller Derby.
Make a mistake.
Follow your heart.
Say, “I don’t know.”
Ask for help.
Share your vulnerabilty.
Face your problems.
Let the past be the past.
Allow yourself to be in a photo.
Take a picture of yourself.
Trust your ideas, even the crazy ones.
Stand up for someone who is being picked on.
Leave an abusive relationship.
Say goodbye to your gremlins.
Be your own beloved.
Stand up against any kind of prejudice.
Say no to the things you don’t want.
Say yes to the things you want.
Wear something ridiculous just because you like it.
Be the first person to reach out after a conflict.
Give a stranger a flower.
Ask someone how they are, and really listen.
Let go of your need to control everything.
Embrace your weirdness.
Don’t react to criticism.
Give someone a hug.
Give yourself a hug.
Say kind things to yourself.
Let go of being busy all the time.
Be open to changing courses. Remember, bravery is not the absence of fear.
Great list, right? There’s a lot of things there that maybe aren’t totally brave, but the thought behind them is. I know that, for me, one of the bravest things I do (and I do it every day) is walk down the halls and into the cafeteria in front of hundreds of teenagers. If you’ve spent any time around teenagers, you know that they are the harshest, most judgmental audience you could ever hope to find…so it does take a certain degree of courage to stand in front of them every day, opening yourself up to their hate and scorn. I always figure that anyone who can stand in front of a tough crowd like that without shriveling up can pretty much do anything. 🙂 I used to feel self-conscious and let those feelings bother me – now I don’t even give it a thought. A couple of years ago, I fell (while wearing 4″ heels) in the cafeteria in front of everyone. It wasn’t a delicate little ‘whoopsy daisy slip’ either, I did a full-on face plant and had my dress over my head and my arse hanging out (because I’m classy like that)….you know me, go big or go home. I figure that if I can survive that kind of a shitshow, I can survive anything. 🙂 My attitude towards gaffs such as these has evolved over the years, thankfully – there was a time when I’d have been crippled and looking to join the Witness Protection Program following something so stupid. However, my give-a-shit has broken, it seems, so I really don’t sweat much of the small stuff anymore. Woohoo!! There ARE some good things about getting older!!! 🙂
Another thing that has changed about me over the years is how I approach my interactions with others. Once upon a time, I’d have overlooked uncomfortable feelings and doubts that I had about someone and just pushed on, turning a blind eye to that which didn’t feel right – because being uncomfortable felt better than being alone. However, those days are so long gone their smell doesn’t even linger in the air anymore. When I feel that something isn’t right these days, I pause and carefully examine the situation. I don’t walk away or ignore it like I’ve always done; instead, I bend over and look really closely…I get down on my knees and study what is happening around me, taking it all in. I’m done ignoring things that don’t feel good to me – and I’m even more done being quiet about it.
A great example of this happened this past weekend – I went and bought myself a diamond ring. It’s a REAL diamond ring, not a little pinkie ring or a piece of costume jewelry. The main reason that I chose to treat myself was that I recently graduated from a long and grueling academic program, an accomplishment that is well worthy of a massive celebration. (NOTE: After all the blood, sweat, and tears that went in to that degree, I should perhaps refer to this ring as my own blood diamond!) As well, I believe that I deserve to have pretty things, and it’s a beautiful byproduct of how hard I work that I don’t have to wait for someone to buy them for me – I can tend to it myself (with a lovely, interest-free repayment plan to assist!). The woman at the store was really awkward, though, asking me why I was buying such a ring for myself, and was I just picking it up for my man, was I in a same sex couple, was I pretending to be engaged so that I could make someone jealous, etc etc etc. She was on my last bloody nerve with the crappy things that she was saying – however, I liked the ring and the amazing deal I was getting, so I wasn’t annoyed enough to walk away from the transaction. Rather than just being quiet and seething inside, I decided that I should let her know that I was buying it for myself to celebrate an academic accomplishment of mine, to celebrate a number of other wonderful things in my life (two years at my curent job! almost eight years in my home without moving away! Monday without work! hockey season starts next month! I didn’t tell her any of these things, btw) – but mostly, I said, I’m buying it for myself because I’m bloody awesome and I deserve it. She just stared at me, so I seized this opportunity to lecture her on never assuming things based on what people purchase, and the importance of letting them share the circumstances of their life and shopping with her, rather than nearly breaking her neck jumping to conclusions. I know, not my place to lecture, but far be it from me to ever miss out on an opportunity to put a self-righteous snob in her place. 🙂 She looked mortified when I was finished, and tried apologizing a hundred times – I told her not to worry, that all was good. I am willing to bet when I return to pick up the ring (it’s being sized at the moment), that I find it difficult to move as her head will be right up my arse. As it should be. 🙂
PS: I will post a picture when I pick the ring up…it’s fabulous! Like me. 😉
UPDATE: My ring 🙂