I met my new friend, Nicole, a college sophomore, on a recent plane ride. She was frantically working on an essay that was due the next day, but every few minutes, she’d pull out her headphones and ask me a question.
They started out generic. Where did you go to college? What do you do now?
As I told her bits and pieces of my story, she wanted to know more. How do you find time for all the things you do? What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career.
I’ve met some fascinating people with whom I’ve boarded planes as strangers and left as friends. Through our conversation, I realized a secret about being brave.
Being brave is not a feeling. It’s a choice.
If I had waited until I felt brave, I wouldn’t have went away for college. I wouldn’t have moved overseas for grad school. I wouldn’t have left an unhealthy marriage. I wouldn’t have drawn the line with toxic people. I wouldn’t have taken a challenging job. I wouldn’t have signed up for a half-marathon after losing a friend at the finish line of a race. I wouldn’t have sold the roof over my head without a plan. I wouldn’t have packed up a four-year-old and started a new chapter half a country away. I wouldn’t have lived.
Not for one moment, in any of those situations, did I feel brave. Instead, I felt scared out.of.my.mind. Physically weak in the knees, heart beating out of my chest and sick to my knotted stomach. Completely unsure if I was doing the “right” thing. Totally uncertain about what the future looked like. Wondering if the ounce of faith that I was able to muster up would be enough. Wishing there was an easier way.
I would argue that bravery it’s not something that we feel. But rather, it’s a choice that we must make, in spite of how we feel, because we are seized by a vision, moved by a holy discontent, or passionate about a cause to the point that we can’t not act.
Whatever it is you’re facing, whatever the challenge, the decision, the needed conversation, the prompting. Don’t wait to feel brave before you act.
Brave is what you will be when you decide to walk it out scared beyond belief. Courageous is what you will become. And inspiration is what you will sow when you tell the story about what happened as a result.
Go get ‘em tigers! Show the world how big your brave is!