I will admit to something here, as a writer who believes firmly in honesty.
The tagline for my blog is Learning to Live Courageously. It is indicative of the life I hope to inspire my readers to live, but it is mostly a very true statement about where I currently stand. In that lineup of words, I am at the beginning. The “learning” part.
Actually living courageously? I’m working on it.
You see, I didn’t start this blog as a place to brag about my own adventures and exploits, or to impress you with my great courage. Rather, this is my journey TO courage.
I am, by nature, a cautious person. I spent nearly three decades living out of a place of fear. I am afraid of heights and also depths. I am afraid of staying in one place for too long, and also a little afraid of making a move. Risk scares me, but stagnation terrifies me.
For much of my life, I have allowed fear to rule my decisions. I have decided against experiences because of my fear of heights and depths. I’ve missed out on meeting fascinating people because of the fear of not knowing what to say (introverts unite!). My relationships with friends have stayed closer to the surface than they should have because fear of their rejection kept me from going deeper.
Perhaps worst of all, I have accepted and made decisions based off beliefs that I now know to be faulty, because I was deathly afraid of being wrong.
Even though my heart constantly challenged me, I stayed where I was comfortable because it felt safe. All that safety got me was a view of the mountains ahead of me, the summit I am still determined to reach, even though I am years and miles behind.
So when I say I am learning? I mean I am sometimes tripping uphill, scraping the skin off my knees, wiping off blood, and continuing on. I mean I often fall backwards and end up far behind, wondering if this is all worth it. The summit is high, and I hate heights. The precipices all around me lead down to depths, and falling into them terrifies me. Often, I stand on my tiptoes and scan the landscape around me, thinking surely there must be an easier path and I’ve just missed it. But no, all easy paths lead to dead ends, and the backtracking sets me even farther behind.
I am learning that in order to live courageously, I have to stay the course.
There is no shortcut, no easy button, no get-rich-quick scheme. These methods work if I want to stay where I am, playing it safe. But the only way to be courageous is to keep moving forward. I will not experience all that I dread missing out on if I do not move towards that life.
Courage is an ongoing journey. I know I will never reach a place where I no longer face some trepidation in the face of a new risk. What I have to keep reminding myself is this:
I almost never regret taking a chance.
I deal with great regret over things I never did. I feel burdened at the thought of all the opportunities I passed over because of fear. But the crazy, spontaneous, unreasonable things we’ve done in life? I’ve loved all of it.
We brought children into our family when the timing seemed all wrong. We took trips across the country at times when just going to the grocery store with our four children was nearly impossible. We have plans for our future that are big, wild, unreasonable. And it is these very plans that make us feel alive.
Still, I have to choose all the time to be brave. Courage is not my default. I feel overwhelmed more than I feel adventurous, but I know that choosing to be adventurous anyways is where I will find life.
I write about traveling with children and how to make it easier, less stressful, and more possible, because I believe with all of my heart that travel is important. But, friends, I am in this journey with you! I don’t write because I’m an expert, I write because I am a student. I am actively studying courage, bravery, risk, safety, and my own propensity to lean towards or away from these things.
As I learn more about myself, I am also learning more about others. A key fact of life is that we are all the same, and yet all very different.
One of my closest friends is my opposite. She is content. She has no desire to drastically change her life or go on wild adventures, and she feels no great need to travel. We always laugh when we talk about this, because I think, in a way, this strengthens our need for each other. Becky is my home base, the stable one who I know will always be there when I need a quiet place to return to. I am her wild one, who will go off on the adventures and report back about the places I’ve seen. There will be times I’ll drag her along on our travels, and she’ll go because she’s a good friend. And there will be times she’ll remind me to slow down, to enjoy what is already around me, and I will because I know she is wise.
In a way, we give each other courage to do what we are both not naturally inclined to do.
Even though I write with the intention of helping people find the courage to travel, I also hope to help you find the courage to simply live, whatever your version of living looks like. Find the courage to go or to stay. Choose to say yes to something big and important, and sometimes choose to say no.
Most of all, I encourage you to never be held back because of fear. Whatever decisions loom before you, look at them from a place of hope, bravery, and love. If you had the power to set all fear aside, if no other constraints held you back, what sort of choices would you be making in your life?
It’s a question I ask myself frequently, and it’s in the asking that I discover growth.
More posts you may like:
Be Stronger Than the Climb
Why We Are Choosing Day One
My Top Books of 2018