Bravery is showing up.

Bravery is saying what you believe in. Out loud. To the people who need to hear it. Even if that person is you.

It's having honest communication with your self, your teams, your communities.

Bravery is saying no when you know you need to. It's saying no to the wrong things so that you can say yes to the right things.

Bravery is having the courage to quit when you know you're on the wrong track, even if hundreds of thousands of people are headed in one direction. It's knowing when the path you are on isn't the one for you. It's taking that scary leap, swimming upstream, or wandering down unfamiliar trails.

Bravery isn’t fun, macho, or full of gusto. It’s not always done in one big sweep.

Bravery is all the heroes in Boston, visible and invisible, local and global. Bravery is having the courage to stand out on social media and remind people to collect the dots, not connect them too early.

Bravery is saying something different and showing empathy for our peers around the world. It's not jumping to conclusions too quickly. It's remembering what we stand for and believing in the best of us.

Sometimes bravery is remarkable, unfathomable courage by the youngest and oldest of human souls who rush forward to help everyone and put their lives on the line to save others. The runners in Boston who kept running to the hospital to donate blood were Remarkable. Beautiful. Stunning. Incredible.

Other times bravery is calm, methodical. Sometimes it looks quite peaceful. Sometimes it's shaking off the noise and clamor and distraction and realizing with simple focus that your next steps require you to take those steps and walking forward is the best and happiest way forward.

Bravery might not be visible to anyone else at the time that you're being brave. Bravery might be broadcast on national television (but that's not the point).

It's showing up, little by little. 

It's putting yourself out there, even if "out there" is pushing past your own mental barriers.

It's deciding that now is a better time than later.

Bravery is bravery, even if it doesn't look that remarkable to anyone else. You are still brave.

It's continuing to press on, even when your stomach drops in fear, your hands shake in nerves, and you collect sweat in your armpits faster than fog droplets in a San Francisco "summer" day. It's taking a step forward in the midst of whirlwind gusts of wind and shouting into the windstorm, I've got this, dammit! I'm still going to do it! I have to! 

My soul tells me I have to do this, and I have to listen.

Start small. (It's okay to start with a bang, too, but small is still very brave). Watch for the mental overwhelm, and give yourself kindness and space to freak the heck out (although maybe not publicly just yet).

Be very kind to yourself. And also, remember, in your quest for bravery:

  • In order to do something new, you often have to let go of something old.
  • The trouble with starting something is that it requires a different behavior than what you did before.
  • We are creatures of habit, yes, but we are also creatures of continuous change.
  • Spring is the perfect time for creative bursting, for unfolding, for the skin-shedding, cocoon-bursting metamorphosis that transforms you towards your next self.

The world is waiting for you to grow into the next version of you.

  • Bravery doesn't always feel like bravery.
  • It can feel like whirl-wind, mind-bending, all-changing upset, filled with unpredictable whims and whammies, stomach upset and nervous twitters, body aches, starts and stops, trial and error, and a whole lot of messy.
  • Sometimes bravery feels nauseating, overwhelming, scary, and downright hard. It's still brave.

A little insider's story--my story:

When I opened the doors and launched my writing class last week, I was terrified. This was my brain:

What if I wasn't ready? What if no one showed up? What if nothing worked? What if this dream of mine, that I've been working and crafting and creating for so many months past, resulting in a big giant internet wall of silence? 

Intellectually, I know that I can do this. I've been ready to do this for years. I've taught workshop after workshop and coached folks for years. I have a chart on my wall of the things I'm leaning towards this year, and the one big thing not lined up for the longest time was creating a course for writers. I can't confess to understanding all of the reasons that I've avoided doing it, but I can speculate.

It means so much to me.

I knew deep down that I would do it even if only one person showed up. I would do it even if no one paid me the first time, and I would keep honing my chops and my offerings until I found the right fit.

That still doesn't mean I'm not incredibly terrified. I get scared! Scared SHITLESS. My brain, many weeks ago:

What if no one shows up? What if I'm a terrible teacher? What if I can't get it all done? What if it doesn't work? WHAT IF NOT ONE PERSON SHOWS UP? What it I can't do it on top of the work I'm already doing? What if this isn't what I'm meant to do? WHAT IF, WHAT IF, WHAT IF EVERYTHING???


So scream the fear-monster voices in my head.

Yes. They are there. I have them. 

When you get close to your dreams, fear can rage like a giant monster. Every thing that could go wrong seems to loom large. The website broke. I stayed up all night, nervous about prepping the materials. Funky characters showed up across my website. More things went wrong. Before launching the program, I waited for months. I studied stacks and stacks of books, compressing more knowledge into the course documents in order to make it even better. I stalled. And then stalled some more. I thought about not doing it at all. I almost said to myself, "Nah, one wants this. It's not worth trying."

And then someone thanked me. People went out of their way to reach out and tell me how excited they were. 

Several more people signed up. The class started filling up before I had all my ducks lined up and my posts ready to go. (I have so much more promotion I'm planning on!)

In the form: "Yes. I've been waiting for this. This is exactly the class I want." and "I'm so excited I cannot WAIT until the 29th!"

Holy shit. I'm so excited. And thankful. This is going to be good.

Today, with the class more than half full already, I could laugh away those fears and pretend with a big shiny smile that everything is all and well, but it's not the truth. I'm scared, too. The fear monsters hit everyone. I don't know all the answers. But I do love writing!

I've learned, slowly, over and over again, that the scariest part of doing anything is not doing it and wallowing in thought. 

And wrapping your thoughts around all those fears? That's a scary space.

Be brave. Get started.

The best way to do anything is to do it. If you're afraid of starting, make it smaller and simpler. Want to have a conversation with your boss about something you're frustrated about? Don't write a big report or delay on it. Write a quick, simple email that says: "I've got a couple of items I'd really like to talk to you about--including a couple of frustrations I'd like to work through. When's the best time to chat, and is there a format that's easiest for you?" Do it as soon as you know that you have to have this conversation. Stop by and say what you think. Look for solutions.

And be brave. I know it's terrifying, I know it's not easy, and I go through it all the time.

Be brave.


Sarah Kathleen Peck is the creator of It Starts With. She encourages people to use their voice, tell their story and cultivate kindness. She teaches writing and loves yoga. You can subscribe to her blog here
This post was originally shared on It Starts With.

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