At the beginning of this year my sister and I were having a conversation via text message about everyday acts of courage. In this instance my ordinary act of courage had involved bravely asking a question because I had finally decided that not asking was the same as answering no for the other person. She finished up our conversation by declaring 2013 the year of no fear.
I loved that statement! The idea that an entire year could be dedicated to courage and bravery cracked me open a little to the possibility that life could be more than I ever imagined possible. I spent the next few months learning to flex my courage muscles with more frequency, sometimes finding that it worked out and other times finding out it certainly did not.
As the months have passed and I’ve become stronger at practicing courage I’ve come to realize that the statement should be tweaked. 2013 is the year of no fear…of fear. Each time I practice courage there is a healthy dose of fear, from butterflies in the stomach to downright terror at the proposition of opening myself up in that way. Courage and fear, it seems, go hand in hand. The trick is doing enough work to come to the point you realize that even if failure is the outcome, it was completely and utterly worth it.
In The Gifts of Imperfection Brené Brown describes the origin of the word courage. Its root is in cor, the Latin for heart, and originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Lovely, isn’t it, the idea that courage is speaking through your heart? That the ability to share what is at the center of your being is courage, plain and simple.
In the last few weeks I have spoken more loudly and clearly what is at the center of my heart than I ever thought I would. You see, after fourteen years of biochemistry and the steady twice monthly paychecks that came along with it, I chose to leave it all behind and pursue what is at the center of my heart: teaching yoga full time. Once I uttered the words I felt a lightness and an ease in my being that hadn’t been there for a long time.
It was certainly not a decision that I came to lightly. Contemplation was deep and fear bubbled up to and over the surface many a time. There was a near constant string of questions rolling through my head for months. What would people think? Am I a quitter? Would I be able to make it in the up and down world of self-employment? Am I crazy???
In the end I kept coming back to what I wanted my life to look like. As much as possible I want it to be filled with what I love. I want it to feel like every day, in some small way, I am making a difference in somebody else’s life. I want to be me, my definition of me, and not someone else’s. I want courage to win over fear.
And so I leaped.