We all have different definitions of what’s brave. What does it mean to you? Take a moment to ponder it for yourself. What do you do that feels brave? Do you like the feeling of being brave? In your opinion, what do others do that’s brave?
For me, being brave is about pushing past the fears that hold me back. Moving out of my comfort zone. When I turned 55 and my children were fully launched, I watched them moving bravely into the world and I considered the fears that kept me small.
I had a fear of heights that was restricting me in many ways. I found ways to lessen my fear of heights and then challenged myself to test that fear. My first test was standing by the window of the subway and looking down as we went over a massive bridge called the Bloor Street Viaduct. My need to feel brave got bigger at each test. These were all safe things to do, but it was my own fear of heights that was holding me back. I was ready to be a little braver after each task was completed. It was an amazing feeling!
I moved through one personal challenge after another and before I knew it, I took on the CN Tower Edgewalk in Toronto! Then, I started doing brave things, regularly. I did them safely and it was empowering. You can view some of the videos I posted, here.
That feeling of being brave spilled over into my personal life. I started travelling alone. I love to travel and since my divorce, I had held myself back from exploring alone. I have no sense of direction and was nervous about getting lost. I was uncomfortable eating alone in restaurants back then. I realized that my desire to see new countries had become greater than my fears about travelling alone.
Suddenly, I felt up to the challenge. I joined an organization called Women Welcoming Women Worldwide and was able to make some new connections in new countries. I took a solo nine-week trip, and it was glorious! I took a big backpack and a small backpack and navigated six countries. I dubbed this trip my Grand Adventure and learned so much about myself in relation to the world. I discovered that I have good instincts. In new cities, I asked librarians or local police officers where they would recommend that I eat my meals. I took a book and I realized that no one even noticed that I was eating alone. The hostels I stayed in organized local tours, and I enjoyed every one of them. The hosts in the homes I stayed in guided me to free sights to enjoy in their towns.
Of course, there are real fears and unrealistic fears. Currently, many people have a fear of getting COVID. As we move out of social distancing, I recognize that there’s a need to be brave in a new way. For the last two years, I’ve been cautious and tightened my circle of friends. I still wear masks in grocery stores and public transit. I’m in the minority. As we move indoors as the temperature drops, there will be more risks involved in social and business settings.
I will be brave. I will take risks, safely. I hosted a small dinner party recently and asked people to take a rapid test before our gathering. Everyone was willing and we were able to have a relaxed and enjoyable evening, almost like ‘BC (Before COVID) times’.
Let go of the fears that no longer serve you. What will you do to feel brave over the next month? What are other people doing that seems brave? What do you really want to do? Just take one step in that direction. You don’t have to commit to your bigger goal. Just face that fear and take a single step. It can give you such a good feeling that you are ready to take that next step. Enjoy the journey!