Courage and the Cowardly Adult

The operative word of the day:

Courage.

Why is this so hard to come by, the older one gets?

From small things (texting a person you like) to big ones (job hunting, talking to an irate boss) it all seems to take a herculean amount of willpower and cahones to do.

Was it any easier when we were younger?

It couldn’t be. A lot of things were deathly scary back then too.

I remember breaking out in sweat and testing the limits of my deodorant (already at peak capacity thanks to puberty) during those parent-teacher conferences in high school. My Math teacher would pull my parents to the side to discuss my failing grades, adopting a grim look only a Mafia lord could pull. Then, all three of them would turn to me in unison — the teacher shaking his head, my dad’s eyebrows knotted and crumpled up, my mother choking back tears (a wee bit of a drama queen, that one). The expression on their face told me I’ve disappointed them, as if I suddenly revealed a plan to  forego college and just take up competitive yo-yo as a profession.

I dreaded those conferences mainly because of what followed. But, that was ages ago, back when I was a kid. You’d think that as an adult, courage would come in spades. After all, we did survive all the things the universe has thrown at us for 20+ years: a Y2K bug, the 2012 doomsday prophecy,  Donald Trump, etc.

And yet, here I am, still afraid.

Afraid of a lot of things.

I’m afraid of booking plane tickets. I’m afraid of being judged for my writing, and of what the imagined audience would say.

I’m afraid of mixing up my tenses, of interchanging “your” and “you’re” and accidentally sending that to a grammar nazi friend and being forever thought of as ignoramus.

I’m NOT afraid of heights anymore, but i’m STILL afraid of red ants (long story involving a bath towel, a branch, and a line of red ants. Go figure it out, if you have an active imagination).

I’m afraid of dating in the 21st century. And from there, I’m afraid of taking a gamble and loving again.

Heck, I’m afraid of telling others what I’m afraid of — to be meta about it.

But what really terrifies me shitless, what keeps me up at night, is the thought of letting these fears paralyze me into inaction.

Because true courage isn’t lack of fear; it’s moving forward in spite of it.

Sometimes, it might get too tiring. We are too beat up by our responsibilities that we justify not facing our fears. We stop moving and accept defeat.

Wait long enough and this becomes the default state. And then you’ll realize you don’t feel scared anymore.

…in fact, you rarely feel anything at all.

That’s when the real nightmare begins.

So before that happens, shake yourself awake. Opt for the hard right, instead of doing the whatever easy option is left. It’s a mantra I need to tell myself often, considering there are still lots of things I run away from. I don’t want to one day look at the mirror, and see an all-familiar disappointed expression, one I thought I had left in high school.

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