When I hear the word courage I quickly see someone battling a deadly disease, overcoming great odds, or as the hero in a life-saving event. But there are so many ways that we can apply courage in our own lives. Courage to speak one's opinion, to stand up for what is right, to face tough issues head on, to pick oneself up after an injustice, and to not necessarily do as everyone else does. Courage to be true to oneself.
I've never really thought of myself as a courageous person. But looking back on my life I must be. It's taken courage to overcome a father that committed suicide when I was a child and the gossip that followed. To survive a mother that was afflicted with depression and loneliness, and growing up the oldest of three where I was often placed in the position of raising my siblings when I too was just a child.
And as an adult I've faced the failure of my marriage. My divorce -- that truly took courage. It took courage to stand up for my beliefs, to what I knew was wrong and now the obvious fact -- I deserved better. Not because I'm some "catch" but because I'm a good person which can be taken advantage by the wrong person.
It took courage to help me see my way clear to what was really wrong in my life and recognize that it was never going to be right unless I made some changes. So courage gave me the strength to admit what I had to do and helped me follow through on what in my heart and mind I knew was right.
We think having courage means sticking with someone or seeing something to the end. Well, I think true courage, and often the most difficult kind of courage, is knowing when to give up. To recognize that while our efforts are noble the inevitable will prevail -- it's not meant to be. We can take our wants and truly mold or manipulate our situations but that doesn't make it foolproof.
Did you know that it takes as much energy to stay stagnant as it does to take a step forward? As people with busy lives we sometimes literally live 24 hours a day just to see our way clear to the next twenty-four. Or perhaps it's that we are so caught up in our miserable sad state to see what often ends up quite obvious, after the fact. Depression can be very limiting. It's amazing how healing it is when we recognize we should stop trying to make something work when it's not meant to.
It's tough having courage sometimes. I'm someone who now knows what I want and don't want out of life. Yet people who aren't as clear surround me. I consider myself lucky -- lucky in many ways. But mainly that I'm facing a new beginning. It's exciting and scary at the same time. Being on my own and having only myself to answer to is a good feeling; it's liberating. I can realize the good things in my life and be proud of my accomplishments and recognize my contributions. I also comprehend just how little my life is in the grand scheme; yet I'm a part of a much bigger picture than I ever acknowledged. It can be scary because it's all so new, sometimes overwhelming and lonely at times. This is where courage, my courage, needs to take a more predominant role in my life.
Have you ever picked up a book and read the last chapter to see how it ends before reading the book in its entirety? I haven't, but my life is one I'd sure love to get a hold of the last chapter. I'd hope that it read something like this: And she lived happily ever after.
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If I was as courageous as I'd like to be, I'd accept that I can write my last chapter, we all can, for we hold the key.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
by Susan Jeffers.
About The Author
Tracie Ann Robinson is a woman on a mission of self discovery. She was recently divorced having been married her whole adult life (at the time this article was written she was 31). She is a professional woman and writes part-time with the goal of sharing her relationship experience and insights. She has written several other articles for InnerSelf Magazine. She can be reached at: [email protected]