What are you most afraid of? Getting rejected for that studentship? Not having an impactful enough thesis? Is that fear preventing you from even giving it a shot in the first place?
Here is that gentle reminder for you to do that thing that scares you which you have been putting off for some ideal near-future, because you know you should!
So, what exactly is courage? A google search would say this: the ability to do something that frightens one. The keyword is ‘do’. It is not a matter of which cascade of emotions arises in anticipation of said activity. Nor is the value of the outcome the central point. It is doing. Although it varies from one person to the next, we have things we know we need to get done, but setting a toe over the line can be so…simply…scary sometimes. Technically yes, this article can be applied to extreme acts of courage. But courage is most needed in our day-to-day lives.
A personal anecdote comes to mind for me. Swimming is not my forte, but I did jump into a near pitch-black cenote once. After which, someone quite older and wiser looked at me for a second too long and said observantly, “the thing about you is that you have courage. That will take you far in life.” I wear that compliment like a badge of honour to this day, and use it as fuel on the days I feel fear trying to slither in. I only mention this (aside from this being the perfect humble-brag, OBVIOUSLY) because it is the perfect example of how overcoming our own inhibitions makes us our own heroes. One of the greatest feelings in life is feeling proud of yourself and when you do something that scares you, no matter the outcome, you know you outdid yourself. You can trust yourself a bit more, you become a better friend to yourself, you gain more self confidence.
We all know the fear backstory; fear allowed our ancestors to finesse their ways out of being the saber-toothed tiger’s lunch, and evolution has carried this skill to present day. Now, the ping of an unwanted notification is not going to kill us, but it sure sometimes feels that way.
But before we delve deeper, let me just clarify that fear is REAL. It is a physiological reaction, you are not being dramatic. Anxiety, panic attacks, are real things. This article addresses the rather extrinsic scaries. I like to think we can all gauge the fears that we know are simply there because they make us go beyond the comfort zone.
Now comes the fun part. Take a walk down memory lane. You have done things that scared you before. Mentally logging past wins will accrue the momentum you need for your next act of courage.
And now…just go for it. Be one step ahead of your own self. Three, two, one, Do. For something as trivial as terrifiedly-awaiting the moment the cold water will hit your skin in the shower (because cold showers are better for you than hot ones!), to making that phone call to have that conversation you are afraid of, but know you need to have. Do one thing, anything. Bathe in the glory that comes after overcoming a fear, no matter how little. Now that inertia has been overcome, just keep going. You have faced your fears before, you are facing your fears currently, and you will continue to transcend the mind-made barriers that hold you back.
Written by: Anzala Murtaz