Living Happy and Stuff
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What the what?” Or maybe you’ve put some expletives in there. I’ve been posting about being brave week after week after week as I push against my social anxiety and post paintings.
Here is the thing: I grew up in a family full of fear. My older sister was allegedly afraid of grass when she was little. Grass! My mother was afraid of a litany of things: birds, closed-in spaces, wide-open spaces, high spaces, water over her head, bridges in a storm. My brother inherited the bird fear, or maybe he learned it. So did my sister.
And I grew up thinking that I didn’t want to be anything like that. No offense to my mom because she was wonderful, but she changed the channel if Donald Duck was on and he’s a cartoon. She wouldn’t go to parks with seagulls. She wouldn’t go near a feather pillow.
I grew up chanting “You have to face your fears” when my television turned on at night all by itself or when I had to take an algebra test or when I convinced twelve girls at a fourth grade birthday party to all hold hands and confront whatever the heck was making that groaning noise in the kitchen. Spoiler: it was the fridge and a snoring dog.
I faced my fears one after another. My voice? Check, make a podcast. Not scary enough. Make a live podcast. Art? Check, do some art. Post it online. People constantly telling me I made a mistake? Check, make a news blog without an editor.
A Friend’s Words
One night last month, a friend took me aside at a gathering and whispered, “You know, you don’t always have to be brave.”
She had a beer in her hand and a determined glow in her eye.
I gawped at her.
She nodded and twirled away back to the gathering. And I was left with her words.
You don’t always have to be brave.
It was shocking. It was the opposite of my mantra. I think our society (or a lot of us in it) believe that you always have to be brave. But life isn’t about always facing your fear, is it? If you’re afraid of sky diving, do you really have to sky dive? If you’re afraid of going bankrupt, do you really have to lose all your money? If you’re afraid of having a concussion, do you have to give yourself a concussion?
Facing all my fears has definitely expanded my world, but it’s okay for me to enjoy the world I’m in just as I’m in it, too. There can be balance.
You Don’t Always Have To Be Brave.
That’s the thing. There is sometimes a power to not pushing yourself into doing things that are really scary for you — like downhill skiing when you have no depth perception. Cough. Yes, cough. That is me.
It’s okay to sometimes hunker down, build up your reserves, and just be. That’s right. Just be. It’s okay to be who you are right in that moment. And that might not be the same who you are that you are in the very next moment. Humans get to change, to discover, to grow, to decide when and if they should be brave or not.
If you want to, you can come hang out with me at Living Happy. I’m much better about posting there. 🙂 No pressure though!