Starting this blog site is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. It’s putting myself out there in a way that I never have before and it’s freakin intimidating.
So I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately on pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and how to find the courage to do so. I find that hearing these words of encouragement helps me to continue moving forward.
Some of the common phrases touted are things like “courage is pushing through the fear” and “bravery is feeling the fear and doing it anyway”. All of this has got me thinking about what being brave truly means.
Should we always do the things that scare us?
This brings to mind the old adage our parents always told us, “If all your friends jumped off the Brooklyn bridge, would you do it too?”. Mine added “Brooklyn” in there, being that we were from the NYC area, not sure if that was actually part of the phrase or not!
We were told this whenever we wanted to do something that our parents thought was probably not a wise idea or in our best interest. Considering this phrase now, I picture a group of teenagers standing on the edge of a bridge, ready to jump. They are yelling words of encouragement to each other like “just do it”, “be brave”, “don’t be a coward”!
Is jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge “being brave”? Of course not. It’s a terrible idea because you’ll literally die and I obviously get the point regarding not giving in to peer pressure that this phrase is intended to make, however it leads me to another thought on what the phrase and our parents may have been trying to get across to us.
The obvious intent was to instill in us that we shouldn’t always follow what everyone else is doing, because other people often do dumb shit. But I think the deeper meaning is that we need to recognize what is right for us, as individuals, and follow that choice. That is actually what being brave looks like.
Being brave is not always doing what outwardly appears courageous to others, but listening to your intuition on what feels right for you and doing what inwardly feels courageous.
The author T.H. White wrote, “The bravest people are the ones who don’t mind looking like cowards.”
I think about the time recently that we took our kids to the Bahamas. The hotel we were staying at had a cliff that you could jump from into the pool. We had been to this same hotel a few years prior and my older son, who was then almost 7 years old, had jumped from this cliff.
As the vacation approached, he was psyching his younger brother up to jump off the same cliff. The first time we visited this hotel, my younger son was still a toddler, so he obviously couldn’t do it. This time around, the little guy was approaching six and was always intent on keeping up with his older brother.
Leading up to the trip, he was nervous about the cliff and he had asked me all kinds of questions about how high it was and how deep under the water he would go. After talking about the cliff jump non-stop and getting all his questions answered, he had decided that he would do it.
Once we arrived and headed to the hotel pool, the time was upon him to face the cliff. His brother and dad were telling him he could do it and all he needed to do was to “be brave”. We had recently watched the Disney movie “Luca” and my kids had adopted the phrase “Silenzio Bruno!”, taking it to mean “believe in yourself” or “you can do it”.
Now let me say that I had no doubt this kid could handle the cliff jump. He was a little daredevil, having recently gone ziplining in Mexico a few months back. He was also a fairly strong swimmer so I was confident in his physical ability, but most importantly, I knew that he really wanted to accomplish this feat.
He climbed up to the top of the cliff amid cheers of “be brave”, “you got this”, “just jump”, from the spectators below and with a look of determination in his eyes, he did it! That was the first of many times he jumped from the cliff during our vacation and he was so proud of himself.
But what if he had been a different kid? This is a common scenario, right? Kid attempts a jump off a cliff or a really high diving board and everyone is cheering at him/her to “be brave”.
Is encouraging our children to do the thing that appears outwardly courageous the best thing for them?
What if the child truly did not want to jump? What if he/she had felt inside that this did not feel right to them and instead had decided not to do it? Wouldn’t this be equally, if not even more brave?
This would mean going against what everyone was telling them they should do and listening to their inner voice instead. Following what felt right to them, even if it appeared cowardly to outsiders is truly being brave.
Isn’t this what we should be teaching our children when they’re young?
After all, we don’t want them going into their teen and college years feeling like being brave is being scared of something, whatever it is, and doing it anyway. That would be like us telling them, “Hey, when you go to this party, if other kids are doing things that scare you, just face your fears and do it anyway”.
No, of course not.
Listen to your intuition, if something feels scary or wrong to you, don’t do it. That is bravery.
So yes, starting this blog site has been scary for me, but it feels right. There is fear involved because I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and that is always scary, but I know deep down that I want to do this and it aligns with my intuition.
But the point is that only I can know that. Nobody else can blanketly tell me to be brave and face my fears because they don’t know what my fears are based on.
Sometimes our fears are simply fears of something unknown, but often they are fears based on our intuition that something is off and we need to know that it’s brave to listen to that.
I am being brave by pushing through my fear to do something that feels right to me and only I know that it feels right.
I hope you can find your bravery to do what feels right for you, even if it may not appear to be the outwardly courageous choice.
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned blogger, who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself. Through her website, littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.