What Makes a Person Brave? Facing Fear and Indecision.
Since I hit the road to drive from Minnesota to Arizona, I have heard people say to me, “You’re so brave,” which led me to ask the question, what makes a person brave? Or maybe more accurately, what makes a person LOOK brave?
Because I sure don’t feel very courageous. Quite the opposite, really.
There are many famous quotes about bravery, which come down to this: Bravery isn’t lack of fear; it’s deciding something is important enough to make you do the thing despite the fear.
In my case, life itself frightens me. And people I don’t know downright terrify me. Which means I have lived my life in an almost constant state of fear.
Sometimes fear gets the best of me, especially if it means putting something out into the world that is my heart or a piece of my heart — like my writing. Reject my writing, and in my mind you reject me. I know, I need to shove that belief in the compost bin.
Writing these blog posts is pretty low risk. I simply have to write it and hit publish. It’s much different than writing an essay or story and submitting it for publication where there’s the likelihood I’ll get a rejection letter or, worse yet, be left hanging with no response at all.
Facing my fear of driving cross county by myself, where I might face winter road hazards or a flat tire, was a picnic compared to facing rejection of my writing. But it’s my goal to change that this year (for real) because I think I’ve found the answer…
Making a Decision and Getting Support
Maybe the way I handled my fear of driving a long distance by myself can be applied to other fears.
I made a decision. I talked with my family, who helped by setting up a place for me to stay when I arrived (much appreciation to my brother). At the same time, Steve agreed to hold down the home front, which allowed me to start looking at maps and making plans.
Several times I thought, this is crazy! I can’t do this! But because the gears were already in motion and I had people helping me out, whose efforts would be wasted if I backed down, I told myself “You decided to do this. Stop thinking of it as a choice! You are moving forward and doing what you have been looking forward to doing!”
Not Dwelling On Other Options
That was key — making a decision and then not letting myself dwell on other options, or what could go wrong, or anything that would make me believe there was another choice besides hitting the road. Every time my mind went into one of those “I can’t do this” directions, I repeated my mantra, “Whatever happens, you’ll handle it.”
So here I am in Arizona and loving it! So much reward in facing that fear and sticking with my decision — a beautiful life lesson. I like to write these fear-facing events down and how they worked out so next time I’m faced with the same kind of challenge, I can look back and gain confidence from the good choices I have made in the past.
But not every decision works out to a positive end. When things go hay wire, I note that too and answer the question, “What would I do differently knowing what I know now?”
I have discovered that even when things go wrong, I’m glad I made a decision and moved forward on it. It’s better than standing still. Instead of beating myself up for failure, I remind myself that I’m a student of life, picking up experiences and knowledge along the way.
I did a search on my blog posts for the word “fear” and it appears I’ve been working on this problem for quite a while. That’s not a surprise to me. I expect I will continue to keep working on it. One of my favorite posts that I found on this topic is “Facing Fear by Chasing Loves,” which includes my journey with trail riding on Luke. Boy, do I miss him!
And here’s another thing I’ve never done before — I created an infographic for this post:
Excellent!! I’m so glad you are writing your experiences down and sharing them, now I need to keep working on that one of worrying about all the things that could go wrong.
Hi Susan. It’s not easy turning off that kind of worry. Telling myself over and over that “whatever happens, I will handle it” does seem to help.
As much as I love Instagram for all the daily art inspiration, I find much deeper meaning and solace in blogs, especially yours. I always enjoy coming here to hear what you have to say. I’ve also been thinking a lot about fear too. I backed out of heading out all alone when my husband went across the pond for a few weeks for some volunteer work. I thought about taking a couple of days and heading into a little place in New Mexico that had my interest. In retrospect I could kick my ass that I didn’t move past my fear and go. It was that thought…what if…what if I have car trouble…what if… Thanks for giving me that kick and inspiration! I’m so glad you’re enjoying AZ…keep writing!
Thanks Robin! It wasn’t easy pushing past that fear of a vehicle breakdown. Every road noise or vibration got my imagination going, especially in more barren areas. But I held onto not wanting my fear and worries to keep me from living the kind of life I want to live. Still, that kind of choice isn’t right for everyone. You take such wonderful trips to other countries that I wish I felt able to take on. Maybe one of these days, with more confidence, I will do so as well.
Great article and congrats on the infographic – it’s very effective! It’s packed with info but not at all overwhelming. The hiking you’ve done seems like facing fears to me…
Thanks you Nancy. Yes, the hiking is less frightening than walking on ice but still has the fear factor of tripping or sliding and landing on rocks. But so far so good! It’s a good workout for improving balance as well as strength.