Thursday, December 11, 2014

brave

Around the end of 2013 I thought it a good idea to pick a word for the New Year. A word that would determine how I wanted to live in 2014. I didn't tell anyone I was doing this, or even write it down anywhere. I just sort of decided one day, and have kept it to myself.

The word I picked was brave. The definition of brave is: possessing or displaying courage. I could list many reasons why I picked this word. The main one is because I've never thought myself to be very brave at all. I don't like scary movies, or huge roller coasters, or even initiating conversation with strangers, therefore I'm not brave, right?

And now that 2014 is nearly over (yikes!) I've been trying to do a re-assessment of sorts to decide if I really did live bravely over the past year. Or, at least, braver than I have in the past. And I am happy to report that, yes; yes I have. I have a long way to go, but here are a few things I've done to lead a braver life (and you could try too).

1. Participate
So often in life it's easier to be a spectator. I've been guilty of watching other people do things that I'm too afraid to try myself. It's intimidating to try something new; not knowing if you're going to be good at it or look like a total idiot. But you'll never know by sitting on the sidelines and wondering. Life isn't a spectator sport, and my first step at leading a braver life was getting out there and doing new things. 

I've surprised myself this year with the amount of things I've said 'yes' to trying. And I've found some things I'm good at, like riding a motorbike and writing limericks, and things I'm not so good at, like surfing.


2. Do things alone
This was a pretty tough one for me. If I wanted to participate in something but didn't have anyone to do it with I would always back out. I'd use my lack of company as an excuse to stay home and binge on Netflix. But once I got over my fear of doing things alone, I became free to try really anything. If you don't have someone to participate with you, so what? You're still capable. 

I did things this year on my own like going to a womens conference, travelling to Sydney, attending writing workshops, going to cafes and libraries and the beach. And I had a great time doing all of it, with only myself as company.


3. Fake it
I believe self doubt is our greatest hinderance to being brave. That little voice in your head that says you can't do something. If we let the voice get too loud we'll never step out and do anything new. So I've learned to talk back. When self doubt is shouting, I like to come back with a whisper; I can, and I will. Watch me. 

In instances like this, after self doubt has been quieted, I've found the best thing to do is just pretend to know what you're doing even if, especially if, you don't. 

I've used this tactic a lot when doing new things alone, like travelling. When self doubt was like, 'you're going to get so lost in this airport' I laughed and pretended like I had been in that massive airport hundreds of times before and knew exactly what I was doing. In the end, the terminals practically beaconed me and self doubt was dead for that day.


So there you have it. BE Brave. Try new things. Do them alone if you have to. And silence the self-doubter inside. I haven't decided on a new word for 2015 yet, but I'm hoping to in the next few weeks. And I'd encourage you to pick a word for the new year too. Then again, I might just keep brave for 2015 as well, and every year from now until I get over my fear of roller coasters and The Shining. 

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