— Mary Anne Radmacher, Artist
We think of courage as something we have or don’t have. “I just don’t have the courage” or “I’m just not brave” or “[He/she/they] are just braver than I am.”
But I don’t think courage is something we necessarily have. Most times, courage doesn’t just bubble up from a well somewhere inside us and move our feet forward or vibrate our vocal cords or poke us in the ribs so we magically raise our hand.
After a courageous choice, we don’t look back and say, “I decided I was going to tap into my courage reserves. My tank was 80 percent full, so I had enough to get me through this decision.”
Beautiful someone, courage is much more deliberate and on-purpose.
It’s not something we have — it’s something we show by being willing to take a chance. Sometimes even with our eyes closed. We just, just, just let our feet leave the ledge and trust that our cape will pop open and let us fly.
Courage is conscious, a choice.
- It’s saying yes to the job we don’t feel 100 percent ready for because we know no matter how afraid we feel, it’s the right decision.
- It’s the decision to speak up about injustice when staying quiet feels safer and definitely less complicated.
- It’s the choice to raise our shaking hand to volunteer for a tough project when we’d be much more comfortable grabbing a glass of wine with friends.
- It’s signing the mortgage we know is going to put a crimp in our mad money for a while but is, in every other way, the right long-term investment.
- It’s walking up to introduce ourselves to someone we want to meet even though we’re facing a better than 50/50 chance of rejection.
- It’s writing books with no guarantee that anyone will want to read them 😊.
Yes is a chance
When we operate with this quality of courage — the kind we don’t wait to feel — we’re acknowledging that yes is a chance: things may go well, they may not, or maybe a little bit of both:
- Yes to a marriage: a lasting commitment to one per-son — from blue skies to tornadoes and back again (and again).
- Yes to having a child: a lifetime and beyond of being completely devoted to another human being down to our bone marrow through every age and stage.
- Yes to a mortgage: 15 or 30 years out into the future, when the money flows — and when it doesn’t.
- Yes to a career choice, especially one that involves a certification or degree: years of money and effort.
- Yes to a kitty or puppy: 12+ years and who knows how many chewed chair legs and torn up sweaters and rugs.
- Yes to a job change: leaving what’s known, whether we love it or not.
Courage is believing in hope. It’s our feet moving forward, our hand dialing the phone, our fingers typing the email, our mouths curving into a shaky smile, our booties firmly planted in a chair outside someone’s office when they’ve ignored every one of our emails and calls …when we don’t feel like doing any of those things, and especially when they scare the bleep out of us!
What courage sounds like
- “You know what? I’ve thought it through, I’m scared, but it’s right, and I’m going to do it.”
- “I’m going to give it a go. There’s a good upside to it. Let’s see what happens.”
- “Wish I’d started earlier, but better late than never.”
- “I really believe this will be worth it in the long run.”
- “Yes, I’m scared, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to get a law degree.”
- “Yes, I’m nervous, but I really do want to meet her.”
Beautiful someone, courage doesn’t mean we feel brave. It means we act brave. This means that the yes that changes everything does take courage, but we can’t wait around to feel it. We do it without waiting for our feelings to catch up and trust that the feelings will follow. Because, we know, we are already brave.