Cultivate courage in those around you

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?

About

Kristen Czaban

Kristen Czaban joined The Sheridan Press staff in 2008 and covered beats including local government, cops and courts and the energy industry. In 2012, she was promoted and now serves as the managing editor for The Press. Czaban has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

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