What does being courageous mean to you? For some, it might mean standing in front of hundreds of strangers to deliver a speech. Others might consider that asking for a pay rise at work takes courage. For someone else, it might be catching a bus all on their own.
For years a close friend had very real anxiety issues at the mere thought of catching a bus by herself. What if she tripped while everyone was watching her get on the bus? What if someone sat next to her? What if every person already on the bus was judging her as she walked the length of the aisle to find a seat? For me personally, these questions never entered my mind. I caught the bus to work every morning and home every evening. The bus trip to and from work was a chance for me to let someone else be in control of the mundane task of watching the road, while I concentrated on reading a good book, checking emails or having a quick nap (head back, mouth wide open a few times – embarrassing?!). I was very comfortable in my surroundings. The only time I noticed others getting onto the bus was when the bus seats were filling and I needed to make space for someone to sit next to me.
I was amazed that this friend could have feelings so strong her heart raced 100 miles per minute, palms got sweaty and face went red, for reasons I was completely oblivious to in my own experience. So she just didn’t catch the bus – ever. Her family provided transport where possible (as she didn’t drive at the time either) or if not, she walked wherever she needed to go.
It took such a long time for my friend to overcome this fear, and even today she still has certain rules that make taking a bus trip feel safer. She takes a seat at the front of the bus so no one sees her walking down the bus and there is less chance for her to fall. When she had a baby, she realised that to be able to travel around with him often she would need to take the bus. But even this had its scary moments. On one trip, her pram wouldn’t fit on the bus and she was embarrassed to the point of tears because no one helped her to collapse the pram down while she held her little son.
I find her courage inspiring to continue to battle a fear in her mind and get past it. In the same way I am inspired by those who stand in front of a crowd to speak publicly for the first time.
To overcome something that creates such insecurities and to push past the feelings of “what if” is what courageous means to me.
We are faced with situations that demand our courage every day, and sometimes we deal with it, other times we don’t.
Diamond (2011) says “Courage is not the absence of fear, but moving ahead despite fear.” You have the ability to move forward and overcome your insecurities and when you do, you feel empowered. You feel the accomplishment of doing something you thought were impossible. You feel courageous.
All you need is to be willing to take the first step, find the courage within and step onto the bus.
I originally wrote this article for EKOYou and I thought it’d be great to share here also. Perhaps you might be working up the courage to better your balance between work and life, the repercussions of which can be pretty daunting. Courage means something different to everyone, what does it mean to you?