I’m the opposite of brave
I’ve always liked living inside my comfort zone, and I have a history of not challenging myself. If something’s not a breeze, I always walked the other way. I’ve been a very big fan of the path of least resistance. But as it turns out, all those annoying motivational sayings are true. . .
Living in my safe bubble never really lead me to any fun stories, or adventures, or anything new at all. I felt a whole lot like Scaredy Squirrel. I liked to protect myself from things that made me uncomfortable — who doesn’t? But I realized that the boredom of being safe was doing me more harm than putting myself out there. I lost my light.
I started making baby steps.
And, honestly, I’m the very opposite of brave, so my baby steps are more like teeny, tiny, microscopic steps to most people, but they’re steps nonetheless. I think that even the fact that my steps were so small deterred me from taking them at the beginning.
A couple years ago, I traveled alone for the first time in my life, to New York City. I was terrified, and it was worth it. It was the spark that lit my fire.
When we moved, I vowed to overcome my shyness and meet people in our new town. And I did! It was (and still is) nerve-wracking to introduce myself to new people, to invite them into my home, to ask them if hey, might they wanna grab coffee sometime? But it’s been so worth it.
I started talking positively to myself every day. I’m not a positive person by nature, so I overcompensated. I told myself I’m awesome, I’m smart and strong and that I don’t care what problems others have with me (as long as I know I’m being nice and all that). Sure, it was very Stuart Smalley, but it started to work, and it lead to me putting myself out there even more.
I applied for writing jobs and got them. I pitched myself for things I would never have tried before. Sometimes I get the gig, but more often I do not. And I am totally ok with the failure. Each one fortifies me, makes me feel proud for trying, even if I am denied — something I’d never felt before. It’s exhilarating.
I started working out. I’ve felt for so long that my body is broken, and it scared me away from working out for fear of failure. Sure, I’m off the workout wagon more than I’m on it, but the thing is, I realized that my body isn’t broken, it’s just really, super lazy. I’m not used to challenging it, because it prefers sitting on its rear end over lifting weights or doing burpees. But it is a strong body, regardless of its size or shape. It is capable. I am capable.
Listen, I went from barely being able to climb my stairs without being winded to climbing a rope up a giant vertical wall. I was truly afraid (shaking, in fact), and embarrassed to have to try and possibly fail in public. But I climbed that damn rope!
I bought shorts. I even wear them. As someone who has covered her legs in shame since high school, that was a scary thing for me. Now I swim, I play, I don’t hide and cover up.
I did these mud races to remind myself that I am more than the shape of my shell. I’m strong, I’m determined, and I can overcome my fears and insecurities.
And look, I’m sharing with you the pictures of me looking my very worst, even though that scares me, too. I’ve spent a really long time being ashamed of myself, hiding away, and never challenging myself. I show the world my filtered self in photos and truthfully, in person too. If I didn’t show anyone what I looked like, or who I really am, nobody could judge. If I didn’t challenge myself, I couldn’t fail. If I didn’t enter the race, I couldn’t lose.
There is no fun in that.
I thought that protecting myself would keep me happy, but it just drained me of my light. I’ve learned in the last few years that it actually isn’t that comfortable in my comfort zone. When I leap outside my boundaries, I find so much adventure and joy and fulfillment that I really don’t think I’ll be climbing back in again anytime soon.
I might be the opposite of brave, but one day these baby steps may turn into great strides.