Courage isn’t a trait with which everyone is born. Some people just have it. Others have to cultivate it as a skill. When I was younger, I typically only did the things I was afraid of when I was pushed to do so by others. Sure, I’d jump off that swing — but not before somebody else did it first and came out of it unscathed.
As I entered junior high and high school I got a little more courageous. I would go to movies by myself, just to show that I could without feeling awkward. I would wear what I wanted and participate in sports or other activities because I enjoyed them, not because others did.
I even tried out for a play once in seventh or eighth grade. I didn’t particularly want to be in the play, but I was terrified of public speaking. I learned all the lines and gave it a shot.
I ran for student council treasurer that year too. This proved more challenging because I actually had to make my case in front of my entire class rather than just the people involved in the play. The whole time I stood on stage my hands were sweating and my voice shook.
Even though I failed to accomplish either task — a part in the play or a seat on student council — I was pretty happy that I tried. It helped build a little courage within me. After all, I tried, failed and still came out OK.
I quickly began to wonder what else I could do.
I had skipped the NCAA recruiting process because I hadn’t thought I’d want to play softball in college. But, in the weeks before classes were supposed to start at Northwestern, I changed my mind. I tried out and walked on to the women’s softball team there.
I had succeeded at something and all of a sudden I wanted to try more. So, I moved to Wyoming to see if I could truly be independent and take care of myself. Turns out, I can.
Courage is something I have always admired in others, but never saw in myself. It is why I’ve always pushed myself to try things that frighten me. It is also why I push others to do the same.
I realize that it isn’t my responsibility to make others face their fears. After all, when I’m terrified of stepping out of my own comfort zones at times, who am I to force others to try it on for size?
I do it because I wish others would do it for me. Challenge me. Make me better.
I know it seems trivial, but I am terrified of heights. Anyone want to go skydiving?