I take no risks – none. When my opinion rocks the conversational boat, I swallow it. If tackling a new challenge means looking like an idiot, I turn it down. If I can’t predict the outcome of a situation, I usually run. So I am not what you’d call brave.
Granted, my life doesn’t require a lot of bravery. Bombs don’t drop in my neighborhood. I don’t have to wonder if the chemo is working. I live in a low-crime area and so far, my family is surviving the Great Recession.
But lately my cowardice really bugs me. The other day, it took me two tries to work up the courage to ask a stranger about a train delay. This was not a physically intimidating person. She was half my size and carried a yoga mat.
So every day for the next year I am going to attempt one thing that scares me – tell an unpopular truth, try something new, let myself be seen without the genial smoke screen. I won’t be joining the volunteer fire department or the military or the Peace Corps. But I am willing to take some chances, and I hope doing so will lead to more rewarding work, more fulfilling relationships, maybe even an extraordinary life.
Frankly the idea of coming up with 365 acts of bravery and blogging about them makes my heart race. I am afraid that I’ll run out of ideas, that I’ll have nothing interesting to say, and that my writing stinks. But if I want to be brave, I need to risk failure. (Although I haven’t told anyone I know about this blog yet – one act of bravery at a time, please.)
Now, a word about the word “brave.” There are wonderful souls in this world who are Brave with a capital “B,” those who risk their lives in the service of others – police officers, firefighters, military personnel and the like – or those who battle serious illness or injury. I do not for one second liken my brand of bravery to theirs. I am talking about a quieter kind of courage. Everyday bravery—the choice between hiding and telling the truth, between playing it safe and risking failure, harsh judgment or ridicule.
I have my doubts that everyday bravery is worth writing about. But it comes down to this: I have to start somewhere. A little bit of bravery is better than none.
So here goes. Beginning today, I double-dog dare myself to tell the truth, have a few adventures, risk looking foolish, ignore the naysayers, and recognize (and own up to) the times I act out of fear.
Maybe I’ll even take off the frigging cover-up at the beach – they can’t put me in jail for cellulite, right?