Everyone thinks that to be brave, you have to have no fear. But that’s not really true. If you’re not afraid, you don’t have to be brave. It might look brave to someone else who’s scared of what you’re doing, but if you think of it as normal, it’s like saying you’re brave for eating toast, or waving to your friend. It doesn’t make sense.
Actually, bravery is more about having fear and doing something anyway. You can be brave about something that another person finds easy – jumping out of a plane, public speaking, picking up a spider – but that you have to make a conscious effort to do, working against your fear.
In fact, being afraid means you care about what you’re doing in some way. It’s something that’s important to you. And that’s why being brave means something. If something didn’t matter to you, I doubt you’d be afraid about it. So be encouraged – if you’re scared, then this is important. Maybe it could help you to work out exactly why you are scared about this thing, and that might help you understand why it matters and what it means to be brave in this situation. It might be that you feel like you shouldn’t need to be brave. Take our spider example. You might feel silly that you even have to be brave. You might wish that it didn’t bother you so much. But every time you take the step instead of running away, you are working through your fear. One day it might even feel so mundane that you don’t need to be brave any more.
Definitely don’t fall into the trap of thinking that these other brave people are fearless. If they are actually fearless, they’re not brave – something is wrong with how their brain processes danger signals!
Fear is normal. You won’t ever get rid of it. But you can invite it in, study it, and realise that sometimes you blow things up to be more than they are. I hate making phone calls. I have to be brave to pick up the phone instead of using email. But usually it’s not as bad as I build it up to be. So every time, I get less worried about it. Sometimes I still come across as a bumbling idiot. But I’m realising that usually, the person on the other end of the phone doesn’t care as much as I think they do about how eloquent I sound.
Each time you do something you’re not sure about, you’re brave. You don’t have to be a hero. You just have to sometimes not let yourself back out. Start small, and never give up. And don’t be discouraged when something still feels too big and you just can’t. Maybe next time.