Monday, February 8, 2010

Being Brave

You know, I never would have described myself as fearful. I happily sky dive. I don't scream when I see snakes or mice. I frequently fly in an airplane and do so without a qualm. I feel comfortable driving alone from Tennessee to Missouri. I eat alone in public and go to movies by myself. I walk around downtown at night. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Not scared. Just not.

Since I'm among friends, I'll even admit that at times I've been a little smug about this lack of fearfulness. When I am around someone who is a little bit more than cautious, a bit fearful, I would sometimes think to myself, "How silly."

You know as well as I do that it is a dangerous thing to be smug. Soon enough something will come along to knock that smirk off your attitude. In my case, I began to realize all the ways I wasn't brave.

OK. OK... All the ways that I was fearful.

Here's one: I hate introducing myself to strangers. Hate it. I just know I'll do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, or somehow turn them off. I'll have something in my teeth or laugh too loudly or at the wrong joke. Or trip and fall. Or break a dinner plate. (Which by the way, I sometimes do.) I am always afraid that I won't be right somehow and will ruin that potential friendship before it even begins. Silly, huh? Because instead I don't introduce myself at all, and am left with a trail of missed opportunities littering the path behind me.

I am still working on this one thing. Still.

But there are others. Other fears that are more limiting.

Like this one: I've always been either very hesitant or completely unwilling to publicly try something new. I just wouldn't audition, try a sport, play an instrument... Nothing new unless I was already pretty sure I would be good at it. When I was five I waffled back and forth about joining the kids' choir till I was in tears and my mother very nearly was. I really, really wanted to sing. But, oh, I was afraid I might sound bad and get laughed at. My mother finally got tired of all my waffling and told me to choose right now: choir or we would go home. I choose choir and immediately changed my mind. Thank God Mom gave me no choice but to stick with it. I love to sing. And I almost never tried.

There are many other things I didn't try. I didn't try out for cheerleader or drill team. I never learned to play an instrument. I was five foot eight when I was twelve and I didn't play basketball. I was afraid I might not be any good. I was afraid I'd be laughed at.

So many missed opportunities.

It's funny how parenting can change you.

Wanting better for your children can bring home truths you knew but never really lived. Not too long ago Sloane was scared to try something new. So we talked. And I told her about me. And I told her about her Uncle Brett. Uncle Brett never let fear stop him from trying new things. He wanted to play soccer, so he did. And, so what if he was never a starter? He was on the team. He wanted to play an instrument, so he did. He played the trombone in a great jazz band in high school. He wanted to be an actor, so he became one. He had never acted, but he tried out anyway. And earned a part. And eventually was featured on the front page of the Lifestyles section of the Chattanooga Times. "Be like your Uncle Brett," I told her. "Be like him. Don't be afraid to try new things. Don't be like your Momma was. Be like your Uncle Brett."

Like your Momma was...

One thing I am is a truth teller. Like your Momma was is. Is.

Afraid to try new things publicly. Afraid to fail in front of people.

Be like your Uncle Brett...

And so I will. I will try. I will become more like my brother, Brett. I will. I will be brave.

And I'm going to start here. In this place. With these friends.


Are you laughing? You are supposed to be laughing. It's funny. But, really, I'm not copping out. It's just that it's late. Really late. Besides, I'm a dramatic sort of girl. I like to build up some anticipation. So I'll be back here tomorrow. Ready to be brave. I hope to see you then.

Good night , sweet friends. Good night.

Circus image found here.


Gigi said...

I'll be right here with you. I know I've told you this before, but you rock my world. Seriously. This post was EXACTLY what I needed to read tonight. I think you ARE brave. Look what you just wrote!

Big hugs,

The Hausfrau said...

I can totally relate--when I was younger, I always wanted to be *sure* I was good at something before I'd do it publicly. I've gotten better, but I still don't like asking for help, and I hate looking stupid! That's kind of funny, considering that I've now lived in two countries where I don't speak the language...

Derrick said...

Oh, now I'm gonna miss the Big Braveness Unveiling! But, I can always check back. I'm sure we're all afraid of something!

beth said...

ohhhhh.....please tell me you're going to do a vlog like I just was the bravest thing I did in a long time......

wait...did you see was just a few days ago in case you missed it....I'm a bit of a dork, but I did it !

Rita said...

Relyn, you can do anything you want to! You are one of the most talented ladies I know. I watch you set a table that just makes me dream and wish I could make mine look like that. I've watched you teach in your classroom and you are fantastic. Get out there and do those things that you fear. You will be good at them!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I loved this post. I haven't said it in blogland, but I have suffered from panic/anxiety attacks since my late teens. So, while I did try out, speak in public, sing, dance etc. all through came to a screeching halt. All of those things you mention in your first paragraph...I can't/won't/don't do any of them. Well, I'll eat in a restaurant alone...but flying, driving, sky-diving...are you kidding me? I don't however, have any trouble introducing myself to strangers or talking to people I don't know. Odd isn't it?

Fear rules my life and yet is doesn't suit my personality at all. If I could change anything...this would be it. Changing doesn't seem likely at this stage of the game...but, finding ways to live a full life "in spite of" has always been my goal. I do pretty well with it.


Yiota said...

I can't wait to see what you're up to! I'm like you in this aspect; not very brave at trying new things if there's a chance of failing.
take care!

Amy ♥ DailyPleasures said...

I like you. I like people who tell the truth. I like people who laugh. I like people who accept others just the way they are. You are the kind of person I would avoid if we went to the same place (I don't like meeting strangers either), but secretly, you are the kind of person I would long to sit next to.
Can't wait to see your debut into bravery! Good for you!

just jill said...

it a very good start! :-)

jacqueline said...

relyn, you are an amazing woman! really! i admire your writing on so many levels. you show your braveness when you post on your wonderful and inspiring blog.

spread your wings said...

I seriously can't imagine you being afraid of meeting new people or being fearful of trying new things. ever. but i can't wait to see what it is you have to share.

Jeanie said...

What a splendid post! I think we all have our fears and while some are just annoying others really are limiting. I don't know that I've ever felt limited by my fear of heights and my wariness of snakes has never held me back, but other fears really can. I'm not a very risky person -- maybe my fear is of taking chances. Got to think about that one!

Oh, I have the meme you posted on my blog too, with a shoutout to you!

Sometimes Sophia said...

Fear is a natural aspect of self-preservation. I believe that each of us has snags in our collective consciousness, where a quirk of fate in some distant past tags us with memories we can't recall but which color our actions and attitudes now. There's no reasoning with these anxieties, but we learn to cope.

Anonymous said...

Boy! can I relate! There is a song that I listen to that helps adjust my perspective as it relates to sharing my faith. Have you heard the song Brave, by Nicole Nordman. She says it was inspired after becoming a parent.

Google it, and you can listen to it. Here are the words!

As always, thanks for sharing!

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been

'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall...

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I've never known a fire that didn't begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I'm gone

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
I wanna be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

Caroline said...

Love this! Read my post today...I think you will really enjoy it. :)

Here is to fighting fear!

Deborah Carr said...

Battling fear is what keeps us all from being all we are meant to be.
What if we could use it to fling us farther?

lagirl/Sweet Tea said...

Everyone has fears, but like you, we don't usually like to talk about them, it makes us feel weak & vulnerable...Truth is, it should make us feel like Kindred Spirits since we all experience fear at one level or another. Doncha think?!

S. Etole said...

I'm quite sure most of us will be back ... :)

Marilyn said...

I want to brave like you will be tomorrow. Take braveness to a whole new level. Go Girl!

Dawn said...

I'm thinking we're all pretty fearful about ridiculous things and too brave about potential disastrous ones!

Jeffrey said...

I have known fear
My own Fear -- Your fears as well
You live in courage, and yet...
I know your fears
Have I ever known my courage?
Maybe, but...
You have known fear
Your own Fear -- Mine as well

And ever, I revel in OUR courage
One thing You will never fear
That terror cannot touch Me
This...IT is our bravery

I love you, sweet girl, when you are brave and when you are afraid!


Susan Tuttle said...

you are beautiful
you are brave
that's what i see


Char said...

courage is to never let your actions be influenced by your fears - arthur koestler

Dandy said...

Ooooh Relyn, this was a good one. I have to be honest and say that B really helped me get over this. He never, ever worries about what other people will think. I know he will never care if I fail and always thinks I'll succeed. But still there are a lot of fears I have. Can you cure my fear of the dark?

Jeanne said...

I love you
It is the year of the TIGER in the Chinese New year and a Tiger is full of courage.
Love you

Jaime said...

I read these two posts backwards, but they are one in the same really. They are all about you stepping out beyond your comfort level and creating a whole new comfort level. A new space to stretch your arms and twirl.

I love this because it is inspiring to someone like me who is afraid to cook for people and has made that a goal this year to overcome. (funny how silly that looks when it's written in for people?!?! bah!) Thank you for the confirmation that we must do things despite the fear if we want to feel free.
Love you!

elizabeth said...

Telling all that to Sloan was very brave, you know. It is hard to be fearful. It seems even even harder to admit to having fear.

Amy said...

I was ... I was laughing. Well, chuckling, because I can totally relate. But, as Maryanne Radanbacher reminds us, "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

Oh look, two quotes in one sitting. Apparently I can't come up with my own content this morning! :)

Oldies, but Goodies