Being brave is bloody hard.
So hard, that we will do almost anything to avoid it. Including dancing with the devil. By that I mean that we will hold onto the devil we know, even though it makes us completely miserable, and often sick.
I’m sure most of you have experienced a situation where you had to make an incredibly difficult decision which perhaps involved some vulnerability and risk on your behalf. You knew in your mind that if you could just make that decision, bite the bullet, jump off the cliff, whatever the analogy, you would be putting yourself in the best place possible. Perhaps you would be literally giving yourself the best possible chance of a fantastic life.
Perhaps your decision was about ending a relationship that was clearly not a healthy one. It would mean you would be alone, or a single parent. It might mean that you would have to be financially responsible, because you would be the only one bringing in the bacon.
Perhaps it was about leaving your 9 – 5 day job and full filling your dream career. Maybe this would mean you would have to go back to study, or survive on a lower salary for a while, or perhaps you could make the income but it would mean that you wouldn’t have the safety net of a secure job to pay the bills.
Perhaps it wasn’t about leaving a job at all, it was just about following your heart, and putting your ideas out there. Risking everything to write that great Australian novel, paint that picture, become that wedding photographer, direct that smash hit musical, produce that Academy award winning documentary or go on that round the world trip.
Maybe it’s about putting yourself out there in the first place and actually going on a date, or allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to have an intimate relationship. Maybe you just need to be brave enough to move out of home and set up your own home with your friends, your cat and a single bed.
Whatever it is, being brave enough to take the steps towards your dream, the steps that you know will give your dream the best possible chance, is a huge investment.
It’s true. Being brave and vulnerable is frightening and scary. There are a lot of ‘what ifs’. What if I can’t pay my rent? What if I write that novel and people hate it? What if I put myself out there and I get my heart broken? What if I go after my dream career and it doesn’t work?
Yep. Lots of stuff to be scared about.
But let’s ask ourselves another question. What if I keep doing exactly the same thing that I am doing right now for the rest of my life. Where will I be? What will I be thinking? How will I be feeling? What will I have achieved?
If I don’t change anything; if I’m not able to risk anything or be brave enough to give ‘it'(whatever your ‘it’ is) what will my life be like? Will it be better or worse?
If you are in an unhealthy relationship, it can only get worse. Unhealthy relationships destroy people. They mess with your head, and make you sick in many ways. The longer you are in an unhealthy relationship the more you will convince yourself that you are trapped. And the longer you are trapped the less likely you are to believe that you even deserve to be in a healthy relationship. It’s a never ending spiral. Downwards.
If you are in a job that you don’t like, that doesn’t make you feel like you are contributing, that you don’t bound out of bed every morning to get to – then it won’t get better. You will just become one of the corporate zombies. One of the living dead. The less you feel good about what you are doing, the more you will lose your confidence and struggle to find any joy. The less passionate you are about your work, the less you will invest in it, the more likely you are to be at risk of depression and anxiety. No amount of job security is worth your soul. Ever.
If you don’t actually go on a date, or give relationships a chance, then you won’t learn the intricacies of intimate relationships. There is only so much you can learn about relationships without getting involved with someone. It’s a bit like riding a bike. You can read about how to ride a bike, but you have to get on one to understand the ‘feel’ of a bike and how to balance your body and the bike so you can actually ride it.
If you don’t write that novel, direct that musical, or paint that picture, how will you even develop the skills to become that great novelist/director/artist? We don’t tell babies to get up and run. We encourage them to give it a go. We expect them to fall down all the time. But it’s in the falling down and getting back up again, in an environment of encouragement, that we have all learnt to walk…and then run. Some of us have become Olympic champions! But none of us would have become great walkers or champions if we hadn’t fallen down a fair bit, and gotten back up again.
And if you are still at home in 20 years…dude…what are you doing?
When you read the autobiographies of people like Madonna, Richard Branson, Kylie Minogue, INXS, Martin Luther KIng, J.K. Rowling and Oprah (just to name a few), none of them had their careers or achievements handed to them on a silver platter. They all took massive risks, fell over quite a bit, then rose up to achieve and live extraordinary lives.
They all talk about being afraid. But they were all brave enough not to live a ‘safe’ but deathly life and fight for what they deserve: An extraordinary life filled with passion and joy.
In 20 years time, if you had a chance to travel back in time to speak to your younger self today, I hope you would say something like: “Don’t ever give up on yourself. Because your life is all that you want it to be – be brave.”